Trade Unions in China: The Challenge of Labour Unrest (Routledge Contemporary China Series)

Trade Unions in China: The Challenge of Labour Unrest (Routledge Contemporary China Series)

Tim Pringle

Language: English

Pages: 240

ISBN: 0415559588

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

The transition from a command economy to a capitalist market economy has entirely altered the industrial landscape in which Chinese trade unions have to operate. This book focuses on how the All China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) is reforming under current conditions and demonstrates that labour unrest is the principal driving force behind trade union reform in China. Presenting case studies where reform has been largely inspired by the pressure of worker activism from below, the book examines three crucial areas of trade union activity - collective bargaining, labour rights and trade union direct elections - against the background of China’s turbulent industrial relations history.

As well as exploring the principal direction of trade union reform, which has been to channel disputes into juridical forms of dispute resolution sponsored by the State, the book also highlights key examples of more innovative experiments in trade union work. These represent a clear break with past practice and, crucially, have been recognised by both the union and Party leaderships as models for future trade union policy and practice. The book provides both a timely reference point and highlights the road to effective trade union solidarity.




















expansion of direct elections stems from the pilots described below (interview, YHFTU official). Yuhang district federation of trade unions In March 2000, the Organizing Department of the Yuhang District Party Committee and the YHFTU jointly issued the ‘Yuhang City Trial Implementation Opinion on the Direct Election of Enterprise-level Trade Union Chairpersons’ (Yuhang Opinion hereon).5 The Yuhang Opinion excluded owners, managers and their relatives from standing in the elections and

‘Trial Opinion for the Direct Election of Primary Trade Union Chairpersons in Ningbo City’ (Ningbo Opinion hereon)13 appears to have cast caution aside and ‘jumped into the sea’ as well – even if the drafters donned a life-jacket in insisting that membership of an election preparation committee was approved by the Party and/or the next level up of the trade union based on the wishes of the members or their representatives (Ningbo Opinion, Article 2). On paper and in practice, the direct election

dependent on, Party largesse. But such a formulation hardly stands up to the periodic expressions of militancy summarized above, and not surprisingly, there are alternative political interpretations of the danwei system. Championing ‘the danwei as won’ faction, Weil contends that the comparatively high standard of living enjoyed by urban workers in SOEs and, to a lesser extent collectively-owned enterprises (COE), was the fruit of socialist revolution through which workers won not just job

dispute resolution. In the absence of trade union representation, LNGOs and ‘black lawyers’ have become very active in offering legal support to workers in dispute. The ACFTU has begun to sponsor the establishment of legal advice centres for workers on an experimental basis and the contested establishment of such a trade union centre is the focus of my case study in Chapter 4. In a significant development in late 2007, the Shenzhen Federation of Trade Unions (SFTU) even approached labour NGOs and

union. It's not a question of organization and everyone knows the union is compromised in the factory. It's more an issue of the higher levels throwing their weight behind specific cases – publicly and much more often – and being prepared to lose. The GFTU blacklist [of bad employers] is not such a good thing from this perspective. It ignores the fact that most employers break the law most of the time! (Interview, lawyer, Guangzhou, 6 June 2006) From a different angle, a worker recovering from

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