ACFTUAll-China Federation of Trade Unions
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To control unrest, the government initiated several reforms such as the Rainbow campaign in 2010 to promote collective consultation and contracts at enterprise, regional and national levels with the help of the ACFTU and government administrative wings (such as the labour bureau and tax office) (Wu & Sun, 2014).
But the brief media attention the ACFTU managed to stir up was far from enough for altering its weak institutional position overpowered by decentralized state-corporate alliances.
However, the ACFTU has its own institutional agenda, seeking to increase its influence while fulfilling its formal responsibility of representing the workers in such a way as to minimize conflict between workers and the party.
During the bargaining between ACFTU and enterprise management, the local governments' preferences might also play an important role.
However, Dan Harris, a partner at Harris & Moure and co-author of the firm's China Law Blog, says that although the Communist Party wants China to believe the unions have teeth, union issues have never come up for any of his corporate clients in China and he believes the ACFTU is controlled by the government.
Often, ACFTU officers have a second role as factory managers or party secretaries--a glaring conflict of interest.
The prior experience of the ACFTU in establishing workplace union branches in foreign-funded enterprises had been limited to one method--top-down.
The ACFTU is considered the largest labor organization in the world, with a membership of almost 170 million, more than 500,000 full-time officials, and more than 1.
In 1967, ACFTU passed the administration of the master fund to the Ministry of Finance.
Many younger labour scholars seek to promote a less rigid and autocratic relationship between the party-state and the ACFTU so as to promote union autonomy and the long-term interests of workers.
The move highlighted Wal-Mart's hypocrisy, but is unlikely to make much difference to Wal-Mart's workers in China--the Communist Party-affiliated ACFTU is something less than a vigorous exponent of its members rights.
China has about 906,000 trade unions affiliated with the ACFTU, with 123 million members.