Although the Chinese government has claimed to be pursuing tripartism for labour relations, the non-judicial resolution of interest conflict in enterprises is largely a process of quadripartite interaction. In addition to the government and employers, the trade unions and workers are separate players: labour strikes in China are always launched by unorganized workers rather than by trade unions, whose task is to defuse the situation. Such a quadripartite process is dominated by the government, with the trade union playing a mediating role, not only between workers and the government but also between workers and employers. The process involves certain explicit and implicit rules, as well as distinct dynamics. This research examines the institutional and social basis of quadripartite interaction and how it led to the settlement of strikes. It demonstrates that although it can effectively defuse workers' collective action, a quadripartite process of conflict resolution reflects a low degree of institutionalization of industrial relations in China.
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