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Employment Relationship Essay

2119 words - 9 pages


A trade union is an institutional representative of workers’ interest that unites the collective voice of individual employees for the enhancement of working conditions of individual or group of workers (Chew & Chew 1995). The biggest trade union in Singapore is the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) (Ng & Warner 1998), and in China, the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) (Lee 1986). Although the trade unions in both countries have some similarities, there are significant differences that led me to disagree with Barr (2000) as I believe that the NTUC is considered a trade union. However I concur with Taylor and Li (2007) that the ACFTU can only be truly ...view middle of the document...

Compare and Contrast

There are some notable similarities between the two unions. One of them is that both the NTUC and ACFTU have very close links with their respective government. In Singapore, the union leader post has always been held by unionists who belong to the People’s Action Party (PAP), the Singapore’s government political party (Barr 2000). In China, it is the same thing as the chair of the ACFTU is held by a member of the standing committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) which controls the government (Taylor & Li 2007). Also, both unions practice tri-partism operations. In Singapore, NTUC practises tri-partism operations since the 1970s by working together with the government, employers and employees to create a good industrial environment (Chew 1991). In China, the ACFTU started practising tri-partism operations with the help from the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in the early 1990s (Zhu & Warner 2000). Lastly, both the NTUC and ACFTU union structure are triple-tiered in nature. In Singapore, the NTUC is at the peak, followed by the industry unions then the branch unions and in China, the ACFTU is at the peak, followed by provincial unions and then the local unions (Chew & Chew 1995).

There are also some major differences between the two unions which governs the way they are managed. One of the biggest differences is the roles of the NTUC and ACFTU. The roles of the NTUC are to improve the welfare and social status of workers, to encourage workers to aim for higher productivity and to promote good industrial relations (Tan 2007). Conversely, the China’s Trade Union Act define the role of ACFTU as ‘primarily as a social and welfare organization and only secondarily for organizing and representing workers’ (Ng & Warner 1998). In addition, the ACFTU is the only legal trade union in China, while although NTUC is the biggest trade union in Singapore, there is other trade unions in Singapore (Chew & Chew 1995). Also, the NTUC gets their funding from members through membership fees (Chew 1991), while the ACFTU gets their funding from the CCP through handouts (Taylor & Li 2007). Another difference between the trade unions in Singapore and China is the criteria where employees need to meet to join a union. In Singapore, under the Trade Union Act, employees at the age of sixteen and above under a contract of service with employers are eligible to join a union (Chew 1991). On the other hand, in China all manual and mental labourers who rely mainly on their salaries for their livelihood will be eligible for union membership (Lee 1986).

Trade Union justification

Barr (2000) stated that the NTUC is not considered a trade union because its ties with the government is too close and that it is as if the government exercises top-down control over the NTUC. He also stated that the NTUC did not do enough for the Malay community as a union. However, I beg to differ. Currently the Malays are able to join the Singapore...

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