Wal-Mart today announced it will allow employee unions in China, which is a major departure from its long-standing policy of resisting union organizing efforts.
Wal-Mart, which employs 23,000 people in China, will let the All-China Federation of Trade Unions set up branches in all its outlets, said Jonathan Dong, a company spokesman.
The retailer has come under fire from unions, including the AFL-CIO, which says the Bentonville, Ark., company contributes to U.S. job losses and human rights violations when it does business in China. Wal-Mart's U.S. employees are not unionized.
By allowing unions into its Chinese stores, "Wal-Mart's applying a complete double standard here," said Nu Wexler, a spokesman for Wal-Mart Watch, a coalition of labor, religious, community and environmental groups that wants the company to boost wages and benefits. "Why are they comfortable with it in one country and fighting it in another?"