Wen Jiabao

Union can do better on work safety, says premier

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 March, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 March, 2006, 12:00am

The mainland's only authorised trade union belongs to the workers and it will play a bigger role in monitoring workplace safety, Premier Wen Jiabao said yesterday.

Asked when Beijing would allow free unions organised by workers, Mr Wen said: 'In China, workers have their own organisation and it is not organised by employers.'

The state-run All China Federation of Trade Unions is the only trade union allowed on the mainland and, although the government claims the organisation belongs to the workers, the ACFTU is part of the government structure and its staff are civil servants.

Beijing is on high alert against organisations formed by workers, farmers and demobilised soldiers, and has ruled out allowing new unions. But it has realised the need to improve the way the ACFTU functions so it can resolve labour disputes quickly.

Mr Wen also said yesterday he was upset about the toll inflicted by mining and industrial accidents throughout the country.

'Recently, it is true that a series of particularly serious accidents have taken place in some places and industries. It grieves us,' he said.

'My work report has proposed measures to improve work safety. I want to emphasise one of them: that is to strengthen safety training for workers to improve their safety awareness and ability to protect themselves.'