The story of Liu Yongyi, trade union chairperson of the Guangdong Trade Union Building workers’ union, [who] was fired after pushing too hard for workers’ interests is a familiar one; this sort of thing happens every day in China. What makes this story particularly galling is that the hotel that Liu works for is not only directly owned by the GDFTU, but is also where actually occupies the same building as the trade union’s office. This has led many to ask the question, if unions cannot operate without fear of illegal retaliation by management in companies owned by a trade union, where can they? The answer has to be, nowhere.
CLNT has usually maintained a tone of cautious optimism about the prospects for the All China Federation of Trade Unions as an avenue for worker mobilization. That last sentence in the quote above thus has a particularly strong kick to it.
The fact that Chinese media have gone to town on the story is hopeful. If anything good comes of this, it is that the public will now have been given one more lesson on what a union is and isn't (or should and shouldn't be). Unfortunately, unlike other episodes, this one might not serve to raise people's expectations of the ACFTU---and thereby force better performance---but instead could merely deepen cynicism and disengagement.
On a different note, I've just started reading One China, Many Paths, edited by Chaohua Wang. Really interesting and much recommended.