Changes to the Trade Union Law of the People’s Republic of China (2021)

Decision of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress on Amending the Trade Union Law of the People’s Republic of China (2021)

(Adopted at the thirty-second meeting of the Standing Committee of the Thirteenth National People’s Congress on December 24, 2021)

Decision of The Thirty-second Session of the Standing Committee of the Thirteenth National People’s Congress on amending the Trade Union Law of the People’s Republic of China are as follows:

  The first paragraph of Article 2 shall be amended to read: “Trade Unions are mass organizations of the working class voluntarily united by workers under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, and are the bridge between the Communist Party of China and the mass of workers.”

Article 3 shall be amended to read: “Workers in enterprises, public institutions, government organs and social organizations (hereinafter collectively referred to as employing units) within the territory of China who earn their living primarily from wages shall have the right to join and form trade unions pursuant to the law, regardless of their nationalities, races, sexes, occupations, religious beliefs or educations. No organization or individual may hinder them from doing so or restrict them.”

“Trade unions adapt to developments in the form of enterprise organization, the structure of the workforce, labor relations and employment patterns, and safeguard the rights of workers to join and form trade unions pursuant to the law.”

The first paragraph of Article 4 shall be amended to read:“Trade unions must abide by and safeguard the Constitution, take the Constitution as the fundamental guideline for their activities, focus on economic development, adhere to the socialist road and people’s democratic dictatorship, insist on the leadership of the Communist Party of China and the guidance of Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory, the ‘Three Represents ‘ important thought, the scientific outlook on development and Xi Jinping’s Thought on socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era, persevere in reform and opening up, maintain and enhance its political, progressive and mass nature, and carry out its work independently and voluntarily in accordance with the Constitution of trade union.”

Article 6 shall be amended to read: ” The basic function and duty of the trade unions is to safeguard the lawful rights and interests of the employees and to serve them wholeheartedly. While upholding the overall rights and interests of the whole nation, trade unions shall represent and safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of employees.”

“Trade unions promote a sound coordination mechanism for labor relations, safeguard workers’ labor rights and interests and build harmonious labor relations through equal consultation, the collective contract system and other similar means.”

Trade unions shall, in accordance with the legal provisions, organize the employees to participate in democratic elections, democratic consultation, democratic decision-making, democratic management and democratic supervision of their respective units through the employee representative assembly or other forms.”

“Trade unions shall establish its working mechanism that is extensively-connected and service-oriented, liaise closely with employees, listen to and reflect their views and requirements, care for their livelihood, assist them overcoming difficulties and serve them wholeheartedly.”

Add a new article as Article 8: “Trade unions shall facilitate reforms in the construction of the industrial workforce, enhance the overall quality of the industrial workforce, give full play to the role of industrial backbone, safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of industrial workers, guarantee the master status of industrial workers, and set up a magnificent workforce of industrial workers who are firm in beliefs, well-informed about technology and innovation, and ready to take responsibility and dedicate themselves. “

Re-label Article 20 with Article 21, amending it to read: “Trade unions shall assist and provide guidance to employees in signing labor contracts with an enterprise, a public institution managed as an enterprise or social organization. “

“Trade unions shall represent employees in equal negotiation and signing with enterprises, public institutions managed as enterprises and social organizations. The draft of collective contract shall be submitted to the employee representatives or the complete body of employees for discussion and adoption. “

 “The trade union at the next higher level shall support and assist the trade union in signing the collective contract.”

 “If an enterprise, institution or social organization violates the collective contract and infringes upon the rights and interests of the employee, the trade union may demand that the enterprise, institution or social organization rectify the situation and bear liabilities in accordance with the law; if the dispute over the performance of the collective contract can’t be settled through consultation, the trade union may submit it to the arbitral agency of labor dispute for arbitration, if the arbitral agency refuses to accept the case or the trade union refuses to accept the finding of arbitration, a lawsuit may be filed in the people’s court.

Re-label Article 22 with Article 23 and amend it to read: ” If an enterprise, a public institution or social organization has, in violation of the provisions of labor laws and regulations, infringed, as follows, upon the labor rights and interests of employees, the trade union shall represent employees to negotiate with the enterprise, public institution or social organization and request the enterprise, public institution or social organization to take measures for corrections; the enterprise, public institution or social organization shall deliberate and handle the case and reply to the trade union; if the enterprise, public institution or social organization refuses to make corrections, the trade union may ask the local people’s government to handle the case according to the law.

(1) pocketing or defaulting on the wages of employees;

(2) failing to provide occupational safety and health conditions;

(3) extending the labor time arbitrarily;

(4) infringing upon the special rights and interests of female employees and underage employees; and

(5) other serious infringement upon the labor rights and interests of employees.

Re-label Article 29 with Article 30, amending it to read: “Trade unions federations at the county level or above shall provide legal services such as legal aid to their affiliated unions and employees in accordance with the law.”

Re-label Article 31 with Article 32 and amend it to read: “Trade unions shall, in conjunction with employing units, shall strengthen ideological and political guidance for employees, educate them to adopt the attitude towards labor as the nation’s master, to take good care of the properties of the State and of the enterprises; organize the employees to develop mass rationalization proposals, to implement technological innovation, labor and skill competitions, undertake after-hours cultural and technical studies and occupational training, participate in vocational education and join cultural and sports activities, and promote occupational safety and health education and labor protection.”

Re-label Article 38 with Article 39 and amend it to read: “Enterprises, institutions and social organizations shall listen to the views of trade unions when studying the important issues relating to operational management and development; and the participation of trade union representatives is necessary in the meetings convened to discuss matters which involve the personal rights and the interests of employees such as wages, welfare, labor safety and hygiene, working hours, rest and vocation, the protection of female workers and social insurance.

“Enterprises, institutions and social organizations shall support trade unions in carrying out their work pursuant to the law, and trade unions shall support enterprises, institutions and social organizations in exercising their right to operation and management pursuant to the law.”

The following modifications were made to some of the provisions.

(1) Amend “enterprises, public institutions and government organs” to “Employers” in Articles 10, 30, 41, 42(1) and 45, and amend “enterprises” to “Employers” in Article 21(2) and 21(3).

 (2) In Article 12, the sentence “enterprise terminates its operation or its public institution or state organ is cancelled” is amended to read “the termination or abolition of the Employer”.

 (3) Amend “enterprises and public institutions” in Articles 13, 19, 21(1), 25, 27, 40, 42(2) and 43 to “enterprises, public institutions and social organizations”.

 (4) To amend the term “General Principles of Civil Law” in Article 14 to “Civil Code”.

This decision shall come into force on 1 January 2022.

The Trade Union Law of the People’s Republic of China shall be re-issued with consequential amendments according to this decision and the order of the articles shall be adjusted accordingly.

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