Industrial Relations Experiments in China: Balancing Equity and Efficiency the Chinese Way
38 Pages Posted: 21 May 2008
Date Written: 2008
While the Chinese liberalized their economy and created a brand new labor market scarcely fifteen years ago, they have relied on their pre-existing institutions, including government-affiliated trade unions, to provide a structure for labor-management relations. As industrial conflict has risen along with privatization and increasingly competitive markets, the Chinese government seems to have come to recognize the importance of transforming their old industrial relations system to adapt to these market changes. This transformation requires abandoning the transmission-belt model that dates back to the days of the planned economy, which primarily advanced the Communist Party's program, but at the same time most of the evidence suggests that worker-interest representation remains a joint function of the Party and institutions cooperating with it. Recent changes in both law and practice provide evidence of their serious interest in creating an industrial relations system, while attempting to avoid the risk of social and political destabilization, but direct social and institutional change in China requires careful testing to determine both the efficacy of new approaches and to see whether it endangers the social and political stability that the government wants.
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