Issue 84, August 2014
In China, the state-sponsored All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) enjoys a monopolistic status and pre-empts the establishment of any autonomous or independent workers’ unions. Most workers view ACFTU as a part of the Government or management machinery. Although they claim to have a membership of 200 million workers, the biggest union in the world, they seldom flex its muscles in defending workers’ rights, mobilizes them in industrial action. In fact, most of its officers are not directly elected, but are appointed by the authorities or the management. As resulted, labour NGOs proliferate to act on behalf of the workers, especially the migrant labours in the developed coastal area while after China has opened its market, there are more and more migrant workers without protection and facing a lots hardship in their life. Being perceived as threats to their interests, the labour NGOs are coerced by both the state and private entities, even the ACFTU. This report aims at documenting the threats to the freedom of association of China’s labour NGOs. Information was collected via literature review and interviews with the NGOs’ leaders mainly conducted in December 2009 and January 2010. Group discussion among the labour NGO participants held in Hong Kong in May 2010 also supplemented valuable information. This paper is updated in 2013 by adding more data from literatures, and also from observation and discussion with NGOs within these years. Critical issues on association of the NGOs also have been involved.