China’s Technology Workers Get Unions

Two major Chinese technology companies, Didi Global and, set up working groups for their employees this week. These groups, also known as trade unions, are controlled by workers and are designed to protect their rights and interests in the workplace.

The formation of these unions is a big change in the technology industry in China, where organized labor is very rare.

Did Global is an online carpooling company. is an online marketplace.

China regulatory Agency has been closely monitoring the country’s largest technology companies this year. Regulators have harshly criticized the industry for pursuing policies that abuse workers and violate buyers’ rights. The supervisory authority has initiated several investigations and fined some companies.

Deliverers move packages from an automated sorting belt to carts in a intelligent logistics center at the Singles Day Shopping Festival in Beijing, China, November 11, 2020. REUTERS / Tingshu Wang

Deliverers move packages from an automated sorting belt to carts in a intelligent logistics center at the Singles Day Shopping Festival in Beijing, China, November 11, 2020. REUTERS / Tingshu Wang

The government is calling on companies to put in place programs to share wealth more equitably with workers. The move is part of President Xi Jinping’s plan to reduce inequality in China, the largest economy after the United States.

Initially, Didi’s employees at Beijing headquarters will oversee the union under the guidance of the All China Federation of Trade Unions (ACTFU). This information comes from two people who are knowledgeable about the matter. People were not given permission to speak to the media and asked not to be identified.

A newspaper affiliated with the Beijing Trade Union Confederation announced that had formed a union. The report included photos of the company’s ceremony, which was attended by many government officials. confirmed the news, saying that some of its local operations had formed unions in recent years. The aim of the new union is to work together on planning and resources.

Didi did not respond to a request for comment.

Didi has been criticized by state media for not paying his drivers fairly. The company announced in April that it would set up a driver group to solve the wage problem. The company has also been the subject of investigation by several Chinese officials since it hit $ 4.4 billion camp IPO in June.

Didi and are considered to be the largest technology companies in China to have formed company-wide unions. But officials in the Hubei area say unions for workers from Meituan and Alibabas companies have been formed there.

Meituan is an Internet service that enables users to order food, purchase travel, book entertainment, book cleaning staff, and much more. is an online service for ordering and delivery from eating.

Neither Meituan nor Alibaba responded to Reuters’ request for comment.

The two food suppliers were criticized in local media for their treatment of delivery workers. The companies do not provide basic social and medical skills to most of these workers insurance.

In July, the ACFTU and seven other Chinese government agencies issued guidelines on protecting the rights of such contract workers. It also suggested that trade unions play an important role in facilitating negotiations with companies.

All trade unions in China must register with the ACFTU. However, the agency has often been criticized for its inability to negotiate better terms for workers.

Aidan Chau is a researcher for China Labor Bulletin, a labor rights organization based in Hong Kong. He said the country’s unions mostly avoid facing abusive policies in large companies. Instead, they address the individual employee’s problems directly on a case-by-case basis. They also provide more general support for workers, such as health and safety programs.

Last month, China’s highest court ruled that a common employment policy known as “996” was against the law. “996” means to work six days a week from nine in the morning to nine at night. Chinese tech companies are known to expect employees to follow the “996” system.

I am Alice Bryant.

This was reported by the Reuters news agency. Alice Bryant adapted it for learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.


Words in this story

regulatory – adj. or are concerned with making official rules of what is acceptable in a particular business, activity, etc.

camp – n. a proportion of the value of a company that can be bought, sold or traded as an investment

delivery – n. the act of bringing something to a person or a place

insurance – n. an agreement in which a person makes regular payments to a company and the company promises to pay money for medical care for the person