Prof. Andreas Bieler and I have been awarded a grant of £275k by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) for a project on ‘Globalisation, national transformation and workers’ rights: an analysis of Chinese labour within the global economy’ (RES-062-23-2777; full project proposal). The project starts to run from 1 October 2011. On this blog, I will regularly provide a discussion of empirical findings related to this project.

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Can Direct Elections for Trade Unions Really Represent Workers’ Interest?

When we talk about trade unions in China, specifically the All China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU), we have to say that it is the biggest trade union in the world judged by the number of members, because all Chinese workers are enrolled automatically as members. The ACFTU is perhaps also the richest trade union in the world because of its funding, which comes entirely from the workers’ wages: 2 percent of every worker’s monthly salary is taken as a contribution to the funds of the ACFTU. Ironically, however, this biggest and richest trade union is probably the weakest trade union in the world. Many scholars have studied the impotence of the ACFTU (Walder, 1991; Chan, 1993; Perry, 1995; Gong, 2002; Howell, 2003) or the debate over reform of the ACFTU (Pringle, 2011). This paper therefore doesn’t focus on the ACFTU itself but more on the trade union set-up within enterprises, and their function.

Monday, 1 April 2013

The Possibility of International Solidarity

This short blog is dedicated to the small group of researchers interested in Chinese labour who, led by Ellen Friedman, had an amazing one-week labour tour in New York. Certainly these are only my personal reflections drawn from some of the meetings, but the whole group’s discussions with American workers gave me some ideas for this paper.