China promised on Thursday no let-up in its drive to force foreign-invested enterprises to create state-controlled unions and said it would not be deterred by reluctant company bosses.
Sun Chunlan, a vice-chairwoman of the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU), said the organization's target was to have union branches in 70 percent of foreign enterprises by next autumn, more than double the 2006 rate.
"Some foreign-invested enterprises still lack understanding and knowledge of China's trade unions and they don't want to unionize," Sun told reporters on the sidelines of the Communist Party Congress.
"But investing companies must respect the laws of the countries they are investing in. Our country's clear regulations state that workers have the right, according to law, to enter the union."
China, where independent unions are illegal, made a point last year of aggressively targeting retail giant Wal-Mart, which has long resisted unions at most of its worldwide operations.
Sun said 77 of Wal-Mart's 84 stores in China now had union branches, and said the ACFTU would bypass unwilling company managers and go straight to employees.
"In the past, the work was focused on the boss -- we tried to get the boss to agree to our work," she said.
"Now we promote the importance of joining the union to the employees and inspire them to proactively join the union. This has had a very good result."
Sun said the union was also encouraging part-time and student employees to join, especially at companies such as fast-food giants KFC, owned by Yum Brands Inc and McDonald's.
Earlier this year, McDonald's gave its Chinese employees their first across-the-board pay rise after facing accusations it was breaching minimum wage laws by under-paying part-time workers.
Analysts speculate that China's ongoing drive to unionize foreign companies could be aimed at bringing more employees into the Party's sights, especially as increasing numbers of Chinese workers leave the state sector for private enterprise.
With the ACFTU funded by dues paid by companies with branches, tapping foreign firms is the most logical way forward given a shrinking state-owned sector.
Critics say that in the absence of the right to establish independent unions, new branches are unlikely to mean better wages or labor standards. Sun said the unionization drive was motivated by the need to protect workers.
"Within these (foreign) enterprises, there are also problems concerning the rights of employees that are cropping up every day. Because of this, we are intensifying the protection of employees' rights in foreign-invested enterprises," she said.