Trade Unions in China
The Challenge of Labour Unrest
By Tim Pringle
Routledge – 2011 – 224 pages
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.
"Tim Pringle’s new book, based on his doctoral thesis at Warwick University, attempts to come to terms with the above rich set of historical and contemporary developments, whether economic, political or sociological. It achieves this in seven substantive chapters… Pringle’s empirical study [is] one of the best to emerge in recent years." - Malcolm Warner, Judge Business School, University of Cambridge; Asia Pacific Business Review, 2011
List of Tables, Charts and Graphs. Acknowledgements. Abbreviations 1. Introduction 2. Industrial Relations in the People’s Republic of China 3. Labour Unrest in the State Sector: The Rise and Demise of Decent Work with Chinese – and some Russian – Characteristics 4. From Victims to Subjects: The Long March of Migrant Labour 5. Experimental Pragmatism I: Collective Consultation in Xinhe Town 6. Experimental Pragmatism II: Trade Union Rights Centre in Yiwu 7. Trade Union Elections: From Dependency to Democracy? 8. Conclusion
Tim Pringle has been researching labour relations in Asia since 1996 with particular attention to China. He has lived in China and Hong Kong for twelve years, and his previous publications include The All China Federation of Trade Unions: the Challenge of Labour Unrest (also published by Routledge) and The Challenge of Transition: Trade Unions in Russia, China and Vietnam.