Zhejiang trade unionists protecting workers’ rights and interests

While the fundamental rights and interests of more and more workers are being protected thanks to trade unions' constant progress in and effective implementation of their rights protection work, it frequently happens that trade union activists and elected officials, at community level in particular, are subject to retaliation or unfair treatment. In December 2014, the trade union chair of Harbin Pepsi Co. Ltd informed company headquarters in northeastern China of the workers' demand that heating subsidies should not be reduced. He received no response from headquarters, however. On the contrary, he was dismissed by the company on the grounds that "his working idea is incompatible with the corporation philosophy". Eventually, the chair successfully protected his own rights and interests with legal assistance from the Harbin Trade Union Council.

Today's complicated working environment presents great obstacles for officials and activists of trade unions responsible for protecting workers' rights and interests, leading to two direct conclusions: on one hand, trade unions are unable or afraid to protect workers when those workers' rights and interests are threatened, so that the workers become disillusioned and lose confidence in trade union activists; on the other hand, their image among workers is damaged, and the workers therefore think they can do without a trade union. Against this background, the Hangzhou Trade Union Council issued Measures for Managing and Using Security Funds to Protect the Rights and Interests of Trade Union Officials at Community Level in Hangzhou, which provides a "protection umbrella" enabling officials of trade unions to protect workers' rights and interests. These measures have three main functions:

Helping to eliminate the psychological obstacles facing trade union officials. Trade union officials and activists responsible for protecting workers' rights and interests at community level in Hangzhou will no longer fear retaliation or unfair treatment by their employers when speaking up for workers. Issuing the measures provides them with a guarantee in serving their members.

Serving as a model for other trade unions around the country. How to protect the rights and interests of trade union officials and activists in the performance of their functions has been a focus of attention and discussion for trade unions at all levels in recent years. The Hangzhou measures provide a good answer to the question.

Providing hope for officials of trade unions at community level. Following the initiative of the Hangzhou Trade Union Council, other trade unions all over the country will issue their own measures one after another, and take practical measures to protect the fundamental rights and interests of their officials and activists responsible for serving workers. The rights protection work of trade unions will thus be further enhanced.

  Source: ACFTU  2015-06-04

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