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The Development of Collective Bargaining in China: From “Collective Bargaining by Riot” to “Party State-led Wage Bargaining”*

  • Chris King-Chi Chan (a1) and Elaine Sio-Ieng Hui (a2)

2010 was a turbulent year for labour relations in China. The wave of strikes sparked by the Honda workers has highlighted the urgent need for trade union reform and workplace collective bargaining. In response to this turbulence, the Chinese government has stepped up efforts to promote the practice of collective bargaining, which had been neglected under the existing “individual rights-based” labour regulatory framework. In the midst of rapid social and policy changes, this article aims to examine the effect of labour strikes on the development of collective bargaining in China. The authors argue that, driven by growing labour protests, the collective negotiation process in China is undergoing a transition, from “collective consultation as a formality,” through a stage of “collective bargaining by riot,” and towards “party state-led collective bargaining.” This transition, however, is unlikely to reach the stage of “worker-led collective bargaining” in the near future.

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Funding from a City University start-up grant and the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation provided resources for completing this article in its different stages. The authors would like to thank Professor Alvin So and Dr Cindy Chu for their comments.

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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Anita Chan . 2011. “Strikes in China's export industries in comparative perspective.” The China Journal 65, 2752.

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Chris King-Chi Chan , and Elaine Sio-Ieng Hui . 2012. “The dynamics and dilemma of workplace trade union reform in China: the case of the Honda workers' strike.” Journal of Industrial relations 54(5), 653668.

Feng Chen . 2007. “Individual rights and collective rights: labor's predicament in China.” Communist and Post-Communist Studies 40, 5979.

Feng Chen . 2010. “Trade unions and the quadripartite interactions in strike settlement in China.” The China Quarterly 201, 104124.

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Jude Howell . 2008. “All-China Federation of Trades Unions beyond reform? The slow march of direct elections.” The China Quarterly 196, 845863.

Bill Taylor , and Qi Li . 2007. “Is the ACFTU a union and does it matter?Journal of Industrial Relations 49, 701715.

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The China Quarterly
  • ISSN: 0305-7410
  • EISSN: 1468-2648
  • URL: /core/journals/china-quarterly
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