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Sat, Apr 07, 2007 - Page 10 News List

McDonald's, KFC to set up trade unions in Chinese province

AFP , BEIJING

McDonald's and KFC, under fire for allegedly underpaying part-time workers, have agreed to set up trade unions in Guangdong Province, a union official said yesterday.

The unions are likely to be set up before the middle of this year, Hang Yuan, a spokeswoman with the state-controlled All-China Federation of Trade Unions, said.

The announcement came after both fastfood chains attracted widespread attention over the alleged practice of paying part-time workers in Guangzhou up to 40 percent less than the minimum wage.

"We can draw a lesson from these recent cases that in enterprises without trade unions, workers' rights and interests can't be protected," Hang was quoted by the state-run China Daily newspaper as saying.

Analysts have argued that the state-run union might intend to take advantage of the sentiment stirred up by the payment case to have trade unions formed at large companies currently resisting organized labor.

However, the decision to set up the trade unions appeared not to be directly linked to the underpayment case, which broke only recently when reported by a Guangdong newspaper.

"The Guangdong Provincial Trade Union started talks with the companies either last year or at the beginning of this year," Hang said. "It was before the case in Guangzhou was exposed and the companies at that time promised they would form the trade unions."

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