HR Policy Global

S01E07 - Trade Unions, Union Recognition, and Strikes in China

Welcome to the Wild Side, a podcast that discusses the world of modern employee relations ten minutes at a time. This episode is the first in the series of country-specific employee relations profiles. In this episode, host Alan Wild discusses Chinese trade unions, Chinese trade union recognition, and industrial action. Alan is the Global Affairs Director of the HR Policy Association, the leading voice of chief human resources offices today.

China has only one trade union, the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU), and it is the representative of 1.7 million unions. It represents the state and its goal is to promote and maintain harmony in the workplace. Trade union officials are rewarded by meeting sales-type targets and China’s top-down approach, setting up a union is about installing eyes and ears in the workplace. When you step into the world of why and how the ACFTU works it's clear you must leave your developed country experience at the door.

Key Takeaways: 

  • The All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) is the only trade union in China and it vastly differs from U.S. and European models. [:41]
  • Trade unions officials have targets for recognition and for establishing collective bargaining agreements. [2:39] 
  • A summary of union fees, work rules, and an example of a U.S. headquartered company receiving a request from the ACFTU. [3:59] 
  • Strikes are not covered by the law in China and the reasons why strike actions have gone down in recent years.  [7:19]
  • Why employee unrest is volatile and subject to rapid escalation. [10:09]