China - Union elections (2013)

Although the trade union law and ACFTU directives allow the election of trade union committees and chairpersons, most of the trade unions at the enterprise level in China are not directly elected by workers. In practice, the Chairperson of trade unions at enterprise level is the Deputy Secretary of the branch office of the Chinese Communist Party; and the Vice-Chairperson and committee members come from the management. Even if there are elections, they are conducted by the federation and the employers and are not democratic or transparent. The lack of financial independence of trade unions at enterprise level also undermines their capacity to represent their members’ interests.
Two joint studies released in 2013 by students from nine universities in China show that the trade union elections conducted in five foreign invested enterprises in Guangdong province and three plants of Foxconn in Shenzhen and Wuhan city were flawed in a number of ways.
For example, supervisors did not allow some workers to participate in the vote which was held during working hours. The nomination of the candidates was not open and transparent but dominated by the election preparatory committee consisting of leaders of the federation and company representatives. As a result, most candidates are supervisors. Single-candidate elections were not uncommon and elections were often held without adequate time for workers to question candidates.

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