Collective Bargaining and the All-China Federation of Trade Unions: A Game Changer in Governing Chinese Workplaces?
in Frank Hendrickx & Valerio De Stefano (eds.) Game Changers in Labour Law: Shaping the Future of Work (Kluwer Law International) chapter 8.
14 Pages Posted: 10 Jun 2020
Date Written: February 9, 2018
China’s transition to a market economy with ‘Chinese characteristics’ has fundamentally transformed the foundations of its labour market and the relationship between state, labour, and capital. Since the 2000s, there has been a proliferation of labour laws, policies, and institutions for promoting ‘collective consultation’ (collective bargaining) against the backdrop of growing labour unrest. Attempts to resolve labour disputes through collective bargaining have revealed a top-down approach by the state and the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) on the one hand and bottom-up pressures from workers for shop floor representation on the other hand. This chapter examines the role of Chinese trade unions in light of these regulatory developments and assesses the ‘game changing’ aspects as well as existing problems and challenges confronting collective labour relations and workers’ voice in China today. As the state seeks to ‘build harmonious labour relations’ as a key pillar of its economic development while maintaining social stability, the ACFTU has played an important role in expanding collective consultation institutions at various levels over the past decade. Nevertheless, the potential of the ACFTU as a ‘game changer’ in worker representation remains institutionally and systemically limited.
Keywords: labour law, China, trade unions, collective bargaining
JEL Classification: J50, J51, K31
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation