China is stepping up efforts to encourage workers at foreign-invested enterpries to join unions, the South China Morning Post reported. The government-controlled All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) is pushing for 70% of foreign-invested companies to be unionized by next autumn, when a national congress of the federation is scheduled. Critics have said the country is taking an aggressive approach to unionization is to counter the growing influence of the private business sector, and labor groups have criticized China's unions for favoring businessmen rather than protecting the rights of workers. Sun Chunlan, the vice chairwoman of the federation, said the move is a response to an increase in the number of disputes involving foreign companies hiring local Chinese. Currently, more than 51,000, or 60%, of foreign-invested companies have already set up union branches on the mainland. The ACFTU has approximately 170 million members.