«Patricia Plattner (1953 - 2016) | Main | Reconnecting Trade Union Education, Politics and Self-Reliance - Dave Spooner (2017) »

China
China Information (review) Vol. 31/1, 2017


Worker unrest and institutional change: Perceptions of local trade union leaders in China
Kan Wang, Manfred Elfstrom

First Published December 21, 2016 research-article


Abtract


Worker protests in China are increasing in frequency, and workers are making more ambitious demands. However, it is unclear whether this activism is, on the whole, drawing a reformist or conservative response from officials. Using a 2014 survey of city-level leaders from China’s official trade union federation, we find that an acknowledgement of the seriousness of today’s labour disputes and of how the country’s industrial relations are changing is positively correlated with respondents’ optimism regarding the likelihood of changes to China’s political system. To determine exactly what this means ideologically, we further compare reform optimists and pessimists with regard to their support for a range of more specific policies, finding that those who believe systemic changes are close at hand have different views from their peers regarding the importance of engagement with global civil society and a tripartite (government, union, employer) approach to managing workplaces. This provides tentative support for the idea that reform optimists are reform supporters and that interest in change among Chinese officials, at least at the level studied here, is growing alongside workplace conflict.


References


Acemoglu Daron, Robinson James A. (2006) Economic Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy. New York: Cambridge University Press. Google Scholar
全总: 推进工会工作法制化建设 (ACFTU: Advance the legal construction of trade union work) (2015) 28 February. http://news.sina.cn/?sa=d13427812t124v71&leave=news11&stun=10076&vt=4, accessed 25 September 2015.
Ashwin Sarah, Clarke Simon (2003) Russian Trade Unions and Industrial Relations in Transition. Houndsmills, UK and New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Google Scholar CrossRef
Blecher Marc (2002) Hegemony and workers’ politics in China. The China Quarterly 170: 283–303. Google Scholar CrossRef
Blecher Marc (2008) When Wal-Mart wimped out: Globalization and unionization in China. Critical Asian Studies 40(2): 263–76. Google Scholar CrossRef
Chan Anita (1993) Revolution or corporatism? Workers and trade unions in post-Mao China. The Australian Journal of Chinese Affairs 29: 31–61. Google Scholar CrossRef
Chang Kai 常凯 (2009) 《劳权保障与劳资双赢》 (Win-win situation for labour rights protection and labour-capital). Beijing: 中国劳动社会保障出版社 (China Labor and Social Security Publishing Group).
Chang Kai, Brown William (2013) The transition from individual to collective labour relations in China. Industrial Relations Journal 44(2): 102–21. Google Scholar CrossRef
China Labor News Translations (2009) The bad and the good of the Wal-Mart ACFTU collective agreement. 18 May. http://www.clntranslations.org/article/38/wal-mart-contract, accessed 25 September 2015. Google Scholar
China Labor News Translations (2010) Chinese labor NGOs and free legal services always in a precarious situation. 26 January. http://www.clntranslations.org/article/51/citizen-agents, accessed 30 October 2016. Google Scholar
China Labor News Translations (2011) Should China create a law on strike? 20 July. http://www.clntranslations.org/article/62/strike+law, accessed 25 September 2015. Google Scholar
Crowley Stephen (1997) Hot Coal, Cold Steel: Russian and Ukrainian Workers from the End of the Soviet Union to the Post-Communist Transformations. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. Google Scholar CrossRef
Cui Zhiyuan (2011) Partial intimations of the coming whole: The Chongqing experiment in light of the theories of Henry George, James Meade, and Antonio Gramsci. Modern China 37(6): 646–60. Google Scholar Link
Economy Elizabeth (2013) China’s new governing style: Crisis management. The Atlantic, 20 May. http://www.theatlantic.com/china/archive/2013/05/chinas-new-governing-style-crisis-management/276034/, accessed 23 September 2015. Google Scholar
Elfstrom Manfred, Kuruvilla Sarosh (2014) The changing nature of labor unrest in China. ILR Review: The Journal of Work and Policy 67(2): 453–80. Google Scholar Link
Feng Tongqing 冯同庆 (2010) 《工会学: 当代中国工会理论》 (Trade union study: Contemporary theory on Chinese trade unions). Beijing: 中国劳动社会保障出版社 (China Labor and Social Security Publishing Group).
Frazier Mark W. (2002) The Making of the Chinese Industrial Working Place: State, Revolution and Labor Management. New York: Cambridge University Press. Google Scholar CrossRef
Friedman Eli (2014) Insurgency Trap: Labor Politics in Postsocialist China. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. Google Scholar CrossRef
Gallagher Mary Elizabeth (2005) Contagious Capitalism: Globalization and the Politics of Labor in China. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Google Scholar
Gallagher Mary E., Dong Baohua (2011) Legislating harmony: Labor law reform in contemporary China. In: Kuruvilla Sarosh, Lee Ching Kwan, Gallagher Mary E. (eds) From Iron Rice Bowl to Informalization: Markets, Workers, and the State in a Changing China. Ithaca, NY and London: ILR Press, 36–60. Google Scholar CrossRef
Gray Kevin, Jang Youngseok (2015) Labour unrest in the global political economy: The case of China’s 2010 strike wave. New Political Economy 20(4): 594–613. Google Scholar CrossRef
Halegua Aaron (2015) China’s new collective bargaining rule is too weak to ease labour conflicts. South China Morning Post, 25 February. http://www.scmp.com/comment/insight-opinion/article/1723213/chinas-new-collective-bargaining-rule-too-weak-ease-labour, accessed 25 September 2015. Google Scholar
Harney Alexandra (2015) China labor activists say facing unprecedented intimidation. Reuters, 21 January. http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/01/21/us-china-labour-idUSKBN0KU13V20150121, accessed 2 May 2016. Google Scholar
Harris Dan (2008) China’s new Labor Contract Law: Harmonized out of existence? 8 December. http://www.chinalawblog.com/2008/12/chinas_new_labor_contract_law_3.html, accessed 25 September 2015. Google Scholar
Howell Jude A. (2008) All China Federation of Trades Unions beyond reform? The slow march of direct elections. The China Quarterly 196: 845–63. Google Scholar CrossRef
Hsu Jennifer Y. J., Hasmath Reza (2014) The local corporatist state and NGO relations in China. Journal of Contemporary China 23(87): 516–34. Google Scholar CrossRef
Laba Roman (1991) The Roots of Solidarity: A Political Sociology of Poland’s Working-Class Democratization. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Google Scholar CrossRef
Lai Ruoyu 赖若愚 (1989) 关于当前工会工作的若干问题: 1957年9月5日在全总党组扩大会议上的报告 (Report on certain issues in current union work: 5 September 1957 at the All China Federation of Trade Unions party committee expanded meeting). In: 中华全国总工会办公室 (All China Federation of Trade Unions Office) (ed.) 《建国以来中共中央关于工人运动文件选编》 (Selection of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party’s documents about worker movements since the founding of China), Beijing: 中国工人出版社 (China Workers Publisher). Google Scholar
Lee Ching Kwan (2007) Against the Law: Labor Protests in China’s Rustbelt and Sunbelt. Berkeley: University of California Press. Google Scholar
Liu Mingwei (2010) Union organizing in China: Still a monolithic labor movement? ILR Review: The Journal of Work and Policy 64(1): 30–52. Google Scholar Link
Luebbert Gregory M. (1987) Social foundations of political order in interwar Europe. World Politics 39(4): 449–78. Google Scholar CrossRef
Lüthje Boy (2012) Diverging trajectories: Economic rebalancing and labor policies in China. East-West Center Working Papers: Politics, Governance, and Security Series no. 23. Honolulu: East-West Center. Google Scholar
Marx Karl (1932) The German ideology. http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1845/german-ideology/index.htm, accessed 25 September 2015. Google Scholar
Moore BarringtonJr. (1966) Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: Lord and Peasant in the Making of the Modern World. Boston: Beacon Press. Google Scholar
National Bureau of Statistics of the People’s Republic of China 中华人民共和国国家统计局 (ed.) (2014) 《中国劳动统计年鉴 2014》 (China labour statistical yearbook 2014). Beijing: 中国统计出版社 (China Statistics Press).
中共中央关于加强和改善党对工会, 共青团, 妇联工作领导的通知 (Notification of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party about strengthening and improving the party’s guidance to trade unions, the Communist Youth League and the Women’s Federation) (1989) 21 December. http://cpc.people.com.cn/GB/64184/64186/66697/4494957.html, accessed 2 November 2016.
O’Donnell Guillermo A., Schmitter Philippe C. (1986) Transitions from Authoritarian Rule: Tentative Conclusions About Uncertain Democracies. Baltimore, MD and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press. Google Scholar
Olson Mancur (1993) Dictatorship, democracy, and development. American Political Science Review 87(3): 567–76. Google Scholar CrossRef
Ost David (1990) Solidarity and the Politics of Anti-Politics: Opposition and Reform in Poland since 1968. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press. Google Scholar
社科院: 14年百人以上群体事件871起广东居首 (Over the course of 14 years, there were 871 mass incidents with more than one hundred persons involved, with the most in Guangdong) (2014) 25 February. http://news.xinhuanet.com/yuqing/2014-02/25/c_126185554.htm, accessed 7 October 2016.
Pei Minxin (2008) China’s Trapped Transition: The Limits of Developmental Autocracy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Google Scholar
Perry Elizabeth J. (1993) Shanghai on Strike: The Politics of Chinese Labor. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Google Scholar
Perry Elizabeth J. (1994) Shanghai’s strike wave of 1957. The China Quarterly 137: 1–27. Google Scholar CrossRef
Perry Elizabeth J., Li Xun (1997) Proletarian Power: Shanghai in the Cultural Revolution. Boulder, CO: Westview Press. Google Scholar
Posusney Marsha Pripstein (1997) Labor and the State in Egypt: Workers, Unions, and Economic Restructuring. New York: Columbia University Press. Google Scholar
Pringle Tim (2015) Trade union reform in Russia and China: Harmony, partnership, and power from below. In: Chan Anita (ed.) Chinese Workers in Comparative Perspective. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 210–34. Google Scholar
Pringle Tim, Clarke Simon (2011) The Challenge of Transition: Trade Unions in Russia, China and Vietnam. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Google Scholar CrossRef
Protecting workers’ rights or serving the party: The way forward for China’s trade unions (2009) China Labour Bulletin Research Report. March. http://www.clb.org.hk/sites/default/files/archive/en/share/File/research_reports/acftu_report.pdf, accessed 2 November 2016. Google Scholar
Przeworski Adam, Limongi Fernando (1997) Modernization: Theories and facts. World Politics 49(2): 155–83. Google Scholar CrossRef
Robertson Graeme B. (2007) Strikes and labor organization in hybrid regimes. American Political Science Review 101(4): 781–98. Google Scholar CrossRef
Ruble Blair A. (1981) Soviet Trade Unions: Their Development in the 1970s. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Google Scholar CrossRef
陈豪同志在纪念党中央作出建设职工之家重要指示30周年座谈会上的讲话 (Speech of comrade Chen Hao on the 30th anniversary symposium in commemoration of important instructions from the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party about constructing workers’ homes) (2013) 29 March. http://www.360doc.com/content/13/0622/16/7300116_294757640.shtml, accessed 2 November 2016.
Taylor Bill, Chang Kai, Li Qi (2003) Industrial Relations in China. Cheltenham, UK and Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar. Google Scholar
Unger Jonathan, Chan Anita (1995) China, corporatism, and the East Asian model. The China Journal 33: 29–53. Google Scholar
Unger Jonathan, Beaumont Diana, Chan Anita (2011) Did unionization make a difference? Work conditions and trade union activities at Chinese Walmart stores. In: Chan Anita (ed.) Walmart in China. Ithaca, NY and London: ILR Press, 217–38. Google Scholar
Walder Andrew G. (1988) Communist Neo-Traditionalism: Work and Authority in Chinese Industry. Berkeley: University of California Press. Google Scholar CrossRef
Wee Sui-Lee (2016) China arrests four labor activists amid crackdown: Lawyers. Reuters, 10 January. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-rights-idUSKCN0UO05M20160110, accessed 2 May 2016. Google Scholar
Wei Jianxing 尉健行 (2009) 《工会的基本职责》 (Fundamental duties of trade unions). Beijing: 中国工人出版社 (China Workers Publisher).
Wright Teresa (2010) Accepting Authoritarianism: State-Society Relations in China’s Reform Era. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Google Scholar
Xinhua insight: China’s Finance Minister criticizes law on live TV (2016) Xinhua, 7 March. http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2016-03/07/c_135164575.htm, accessed 2 May 2016. Google Scholar
Yi Xiaoxia 伊晓霞 (2014) 5年内全省企业工会普遍民主选举产生 (Enterprise trade unions will be democratically elected in 5 years). 南方都市报 (Southern Metropolis Daily), 3 July, AA07. Google Scholar
You Zhenglin 游正林 (2010) 60年来中国工会的三次大改革 (Three big reforms of the Chinese trade unions in the past 60 years). 社会学研究 (Sociological studies), no. 4: 100–24. Google Scholar
Zhang Jianguo 张建国, Xu Wei 徐微 (2015) 走向谈判: 中国工会要坚定不移 (Walking towards bargaining: China’s trade unions have to be persistent. 中国工人 (Chinese Workers), no. 1: 4–12. Google Scholar
Zhang Lu (2015) Inside China’s Automobile Factories: The Politics of Labor and Worker Resistance. New York: Cambridge University Press. Google Scholar


Vol 31, Issue 1, 2017

China Information
ISSN: 0920-203X
Online ISSN: 1741-590X

Copyright © 2017 by SAGE Publications

logo.gif