China Labor News Translations has acquired and translated into English a copy of the much publicized collective labour agreement negotiated by Walmart and the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) last year.
Apart from the fact that the contract exists at all, there is little in the document for Walmart employees in China to celebrate. There are no provisions for the resolution of individual and collective disputes and the basic terms of the agreement related to work hours, vacation time, welfare insurance, workplace health and safety are locked in for five years.
The only room for improvement the union has is in the collective wage consultations scheduled for each December. According to the initial negotiations, employees were promised an eight percent pay rise, however, according to CLNT, ordinary Walmart workers have yet to receive any wage increases.
The ACFTU has consistently touted its efforts to unionize and negotiate collective contracts at Walmart as evidence of its effectiveness as a trade union. And if you look at the number of stores unionized and the number of contracts signed, it does seem impressive. But the real work of a union is in representing its members’ economic interests and protecting their legal rights. And there is little evidence so far that the unions in Walmart’s China stores are doing anything to protect workers’ rights. Indeed those few union officials who have stood up to Walmart management have either been fired or resigned in frustration.