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A Chinese Labour Activist’s Reflection on the Recent Development of Labour Relations in China

Jun 09, 2012

This issue of China Labor News Translations (CLNT) brings the translation of an article written by a Chinese labour activist about the recent development of labour relations in China, in particular on strike, collective bargaining and unions. The labour activist has been a worker for decades in northern China. In recent years, he has provided legal advice and represented workers in legal cases in China. The article was written last year shortly after attending a semi-academic conference on collective bargaining. It summarised and elaborated on his remarks and observation at the conference, which he believes is different from the majority of opinions voiced during the conference.

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Making Sense of ‘Labour Shortage’ and ‘Short Term Work’

Mar 10, 2012

Each year, one can be sure that the topic of ‘labour shortages’ will pop up in the Chinese media immediately after the Chinese New Year. As rural migrant workers return home to celebrate the occasion, employers will have a difficult time to quickly find enough new workers when the holiday ends. This can take several weeks and much anxiety, but in the end normally enough workers will be found. In this sense, it is not a structural but temporal shortage of labour; the media reports on labour shortages are more a reflection of the anxiety of capital and local government anxious about economic growth. So what is the issue?

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The Dispatch Labor System in China Questioned

Sep 29, 2011

This issue of China Labor News Translations (CLNT) features three excerpts from published Chinese-language articles on the labor dispatch system in China. In the past several years, the use of dispatch labor has become a contentious issue in Chinese labor relations. Under the labor dispatch system, workers sign labor contracts with labor dispatch agencies and are then “dispatched” to enterprises that are recruiting new workers. These enterprises therefore have fewer responsibilities associated with labor contracts such as for social security payments and workplace injuries to dispatch workers. Dispatch workers are also often paid less than contract workers for the same work. When dispatch workers are no longer needed, they are easily “returned” to labor dispatch agencies receiving no severance compensation. As the labor dispatch system exists in a legal grey area, companies have exploited the loopholes to not only continue but expand the employment of dispatch workers unabated in recent years.

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Change of editor

Sep 29, 2011

Dear CLNT reader,

Four years ago initially CLNT was started by Anita Chan and Diana Beaumont. Anita Chan is an academic researcher and labor rights advocate formally affiliated with the Australian National University. Two years ago she took up employment at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). Diana Beaumont previously worked with labor rights NGOs Shenzhen and in Hong Kong, and currently presents two industrial relations programs on community radio in Melbourne.

We are pleased to announce that Kevin Lin will assume the role of CLNT’s new editor.

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Should China create a law on strike?

Jul 20, 2011

Even though strikes frequently occur across China, the country actually has no law regulating labor strikes. There is no law permitting strikes, but at the same time there is no law banning them. After the high-profile strike wave in the automotive sector last year, a small number of public comments were published in China, online and in the print media, discussing the question of whether or not there should be legislation about workers’ right to strike. In this issue of CLNT we provide translations of two articles which argue in favor of introducing a law on strike in China, but we will argue that legislating on strike at this juncture in Chinese labor history will actually disadvantage Chinese workers. We are aware this goes against the tide of calling on China to pass the sacrosanct law on strike, but our assessment of the situation is that this demand should be left to the Chinese workers themselves.

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