Zhongguo laogong jiufen biange de jixiang - Chinese Manual Workers? Labour Disputes - Transformed Signals

Chinese University Press
Publication Type:
Zhong-wai ming xuezhe lun ershiyi shiji chu de Zhongguo (Illustrious Chinese and Foreign Scholars Perspectives on China in the Early Twenty-first Century), 2009, 1, pp. 471 - 484
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In the Western press, there regularly have been reports about the plight of Chinese paid a pittance for working long hours making products for export1. The reports are accurate, and in fact, in a great many factories labour standards have continued to decline. But there are new developments in the labour arena that herald change. The formerly vast pool of impoverished workers from the countryside has begun drying up, as increasing numbers consider it not worthwhile to migrate from their villages. Western multinationals have devised "corporate codes of conduct" setting a floor for labour standards and, under pressure from the international anti-sweatshop movement, are seeking to enforce the codes in the Chinese factories that produce goods bearing their brands. The Chinese Federation of Trade Unions has mounted new efforts to establish union branches in foreign-run enterprises, and has begun organising enterprise-level trade-union elections in state-owned enterprises. These and the several other important developments, which will be examined in this paper are still just emerging. Tracking them helps us see what may lie ahead in the coming decade in Chinese labour relations.
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