Uniting labour in our community

International Solidarity

Shanghai Municipal Trade Union Council

The Vancouver & District Labour Council hosted a high level trade union delegation from the Shanghai Municipal Trade Union Council on September 19 and 20. The population of Shanghai is 24 million, with 8.8 million represented by the union. Thanks to the BC Fed and BC Building Trades for assisting with presentations and welcoming the 6 person delegation.

The VDLC, the British Columbia Federation of Labour and the BC & Yukon Building Trades Council held meetings with the visiting delegation from the Shanghai Municipal Trade Union Council with presentations and discussions about issues of common concern to workers and unions in Canada and China.

Some photographs of the visit:  https://goo.gl/photos/z5XPB73uZvvtQ3iN7

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Beijing Municipal Federation of Trade Unions Delegation

During the week of May 9, the VDLC hosted a delegation from the Beijing Municipal Federation of Trade Unions (BMFTU), a central labour organization in Beijing China.  An informal dinner on May 11 was followed on May 13 with a meeting and tour of the Insulator’s Union training facility at BCIT.  The delegation was led by Zeng Fanxin, Executive Vice Chairperson of the BMFTU.

This exchange is one of several we’ve enjoyed over the years.  The VDLC has visited Beijing twice, most recently in 2014, and have received BMFTU delegations three times.

These “city to city” relationships between labour organizations help us to understand each other and build international solidarity in a world with increasingly global economies and the impacts of trans-national corporations.  Our discussion focuses on union structures (from shop stewards to International conventions for advocacy and policy), collective bargaining, how to improve health and safety, wages, and working conditions.

With a population of almost 20 million, combined with a unionization rate of about 80%, the BMFTU represents millions of workers, but struggles with the changing role of the union from an advisory capacity under the previous government policies – to an advocacy and bargaining representative role in the new “open” economy.  There are many strikes as workers struggle to improve their wages and conditions, and it continues to be an era of significant social and economic change across China.

Exchanges like this one and another planned for September with the Shanghai Federation of Trade Unions, help to strengthen our respective abilities to improve labour rights in both China and Canada.

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VDLC met with delegation from Guangdong Provincial Trade Union Council

September 2015