IndustriALL Global Union held its first ever automotive workshops in China last month. The auto sector meetings took place in Shanghai and Beijing from 24 to 26 November.
Leading representatives from auto companies including Volkswagen, BMW, Daimler, PSA, Renault, Volvo, AB Volvo, Honda, Toyota as well as trade union affiliates from IG Metall (Germany), IF Metall (Sweden), UNIFOR (Canada) and JAW (Japan) took part in the workshops.
Participants also visited a Volkswagen plant in Ningbo (near Shanghai), the German Embassy and the Daimler plant in Beijing. They held meetings with the Chinese trade unions at Volkswagen, BMW and Daimler, as well as with representatives of management.
The purpose of the workshops is to develop cooperation with Chinese trade unionists at the plant level, to exchange experiences, and to get a better knowledge about Chinese union work.
Another key aspect was to gain a better understanding of the car market in China and current developments regarding e-mobility and connectivity technology.
China is more or less on the same level as the European, Japanese and American car industries or even ahead of them. It is expected that there will be a big push of Chinese government to support this development and China will be a serious competitor on this field.
Boy Lüthje, Professor at Sun Yat-Sen University in China described in his report industrial relations in China and stressed, that labour standards, collective bargaining and democratic workplace representation have to be key elements of industrial reforms.
Frank Patta from Volkswagen World Works Council presented their model of cooperation and coordination between the different sites in China and their representative bodies.
In the German Embassy, participants gained an insight into the development of the Chinese auto market. The growth has slowed down but at the same time, Chinese brands are growing much faster than foreign firms, especially in the field of electric cars.
Some Chinese colleagues are already participating in the global networks of different auto companies such as AB Volvo, Daimler, Volkswagen and BMW.
Helmut Lense, IndustriALL’s automotive director, said:
These workshops are another step in the long-term development of cooperation and exchange with our Chinese colleagues on the plant level. China is an important partner as the car industry is set to undergo seismic changes with the arrival of new technologies.