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Management and Labour relations in China


The rapid growth and role of rural migrant labour in urban economy ... are wishing for their best Christmas and birthday gifts in the West, the Chinese ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Management and Labour relations in China

Management and Labour relations in China
Rural migrant labour in China Trade unions
response and organising strategy
  • Overview
  • The rapid growth and role of rural migrant labour
    in urban economy
  • Working conditions of rural migrant labour in
    urban areas
  • The role of the Chinese trade union
  • Trade unions response to rural migrant labour
  • Ways of organising
  • Barriers to union organisation

The rapid growth and role of rural migrant labour
in urban economy
  • 200 million rural migrant workers are working in
    urban area
  • Construction sites, foreign-owned manufacturing
    factories, catering industry, and community
    services the main employing sites
  • Rural migrant workers now make up over 46 of the
    workforce in the secondary and tertiary
    industrial sectors

80 of workers work in the construction and
catering industries are rural migrant workers
Worst jobs, big contribution to urban economy,
but little rights
Working conditions of rural migrant labour in
urban areas
  • 3/4 of the rural migrant workers did not receive
    their wage payment on time
  • Construction industry employers the worst
    offenders local governments among the worst
  • 84 of the migrant workers have no employment
  • Over 80 of those suffered in work-related
    injuries in non-state-owned sector were rural
    migrant workers mining, construction
    manufacturing among the worst sectors

Fingers crossed/chopped off?
  • While children are wishing for their best
    Christmas and birthday gifts in the West, the
    Chinese workers are losing their fingers in their

Working conditions of rural migrant labour in
urban areas (cont)
  • Over 80 of the rural migrant workers did not
    participate in any form of social insurance
  • 25 of rural migrant workers earned below local
    minimum wage, 45 had no rest day
  • Less than 10 of the rural migrant workers ever
    received any training leading to more
    industrial accidents

Living conditions of rural migrant labour in
urban areas
  • The vast majority of migrant workers live in very
    poor environment - in crowded dormitories and eat
    in crude canteens to economise on their social
    reproduction cost and maximise production time
  • Social discrimination exclusion another problem
    endured by rural migrant workers their families
    living in urban areas, e.g.
  • Little coverage of social insurance welfare
  • No access to education for their children
  • May be subject to discrimination bullying
  • Lack of respect from urban citizens
  • Social discrimination regarded by migrant workers
    as the most formidable social barriers to their
    integration into the urban life
  • Consequences mingong huang (shortage of rural

Reasons for mingong huang
  • Low wage work intensity main reasons for
    shortage of labour, e.g.
  • In Guangdong Province wage only increased 68 yuan
    in 12 years
  • A migrant worker in this area earns 6,000 yuan a
    year, while the average annual wage of all
    workers has been increasing by more than 1,000
    yuan per year to 14,040 yuan in 2003
  • Improved farming policy has made farming less
    unbearable tax relief
  • Developed areas no longer have the monopsony of
    job markets plants are moving towards western
    regions for cheaper labour and other costs

Reasons for mingong huang (cont)
  • Rural migrant workers choose to work nearer
    hometown for cultural proximity
  • Reduction of young workers as a result of
    one-child policy
  • Retention of skilled migrant workers workers
    jump ships collectively for better wage and
    better working conditions/better treatment
  • Lack of labour market information mismatch of
    demand and supply
  • Lack of supply of skilled labour and excessive
    supply of unskilled labour

Trade unions response to rural migrant labour
  • Little interest of the TU on rural migrant
    workers until recently
  • TUs instructed by the Government in late 1994 to
    launch a campaign to set up unions in all the
    non-unionised foreign-invested enterprises, with
    the ultimate declared purpose of implementing
    collective bargaining
  • Success was limited only 32 of non-state-owned
    firms are unionised even less clear of its
    impact on workers
  • By the end of 2004, there were about 20 million
    rural migrant worker union members. ACFTU set a
    target to recruit 6.6 million each year in the
    next four years
  • Policy drive at the top is not always embraced
    with enthusiasm at grassroot level

The role of the trade unions
  • TU-Communist party tie goes back to 1920s (1st
    May 1925 founded)
  • Only one union recognised All-China Federation
    of Trade Unions (no trade characteristics)
  • Welfare role and training role under the
    leadership of the Communist Party
  • Unionisation level high in the state sector but
    low in private sector
  • Trade unions more organised and competent in
    certain sector (e.g. large SOEs) but influence in
    management decisions is generally declining
  • Union presence has little impact on wage level

The role of the trade unions (cont)
  • Misguided perceptions of managers and TU reps
    about their role
  • Union reps lack of collective bargaining or
    negotiation skills and other resources
  • Low opinion of workers on the effectiveness of
    the TU
  • New role of the trade unions in light of changing
    employment relations?
  • Trade Union Law (1950, 2001)

TU structure at local levels
Table 1. Union membership level in organisations
where unions were established
Two ways of organising rural migrant workers
  • Workplace organisation to gain recognition and
    then organise
  • Difficult to gain access but membership level is
    usually high at over 90 once a union is
  • Less cost and more employer support
  • TU on site mainly play HR function and welfare
  • Limited bargaining effect
  • Less competition from other service providers
  • Union activities and governing framework more

Two ways of organising (cont)
  • Distant organisation recruit migrant workers
    outside the workplace by offering them a range of
    services, e.g. training, employment information,
    legal help
  • More costly but greater impact of information
  • Individual worker oriented instead of collective
  • Workers less identified with the TU
  • More competition from other service providers

Barriers to union organisation
  • Persistent employer resistance union
    recognition seen as inviting wolf into the
  • Tactics are used to delay union access
  • Competing demand on local government in
    developing local economy protect workers
    rights ineffective enforcement of Trade Union
    Law and Labour law
  • Disinterest from rural migrant workers to join TU
    due to the perceived inefficacy of the trade union

Barriers to union organisation (cont)
  • Union recognition have little impact on wage
    level or coverage of social insurance
  • Logistic problems for TU to organise retain
    migrant workers members
  • Insufficiency of professional competence among
    union officials at operational level, e.g. legal
    knowledge, other professional skills
  • Lack of resources financial constraints and job

For years, MNCs like Wal-Mart have resisted the
call for union recognition
Competing service providers
  • Local governments
  • Job centres
  • Training centres
  • Employment agencies
  • Legal aid centres
  • Tongxiang hui (unofficial associations of fellow
    migrant workers from the same region or village)

Ways forward for the unions
  • Join forces with other service providers
  • Bargain for more resources from the
  • Government
  • Seek closer alliances with NGOs to exert pressure
    on employers
  • Training and development of union officials
  • Closer partnership with local governments and
  • Educate workers and build trust and
  • More innovative delivery of effective services to

Table 2. The disposal of labour disputes (2003)
Table 3. Trends of labour disputes in China
Table 4. Labour dispute cases classified by
reasons for disputes in China (1997-2003)
Table 5. Labour disputes appealed and settled by
arbitration committees in China (1995-2004)
(No Transcript)
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