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.

Monday, 29 September 2014

The new faultline between networks and hierarchies in China: Where is class struggle?

This is a guest post by Andreas Bieler.

As part of the Workshop on Chinese Labour in the Global Economy, Paul Mason, the Economics Editor of Channel4News, gave a highly stimulating and thought provoking public lecture at Nottingham University on 12 September 2014. The focus of his talk ‘Digital rebels, analogue slaves? China’s workforce in the 21st century’ was on the information technology (IT) revolution and its implications for workers’ unrest in China. Provocatively, his main claim was that the main conflict is no longer between capital and labour, but between networks and hierarchies (see also Mason, Comment is free, 14/09/2014). In this blog post, I will critically evaluate this claim.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Chinese working class in SOEs: transformation under marketization

Wang Ting is our workshop's talented translator. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the Department of Applied Social Sciences, City University of Hong Kong. This is her guest post. 

Thursday, 25 September 2014

For Better Enforcement of the Labour Contract Law: Why and How?

Fuk-Yin presented at the activist panel in our September workshop, she was a policy and education officer at Worker Empowerment (WE), a Hong Kong-based labour organisation working on Chinese labour issues, from 2012 to 2014. She was responsible for writing up labour education materials, conducting action researches and supporting policy advocacy campaigns in Guangdong, mainly Shenzhen and Huizhou. Before working at WE, Fuk Ying obtained her bachelor and master’s degrees (in 2006 and 2009 respectively) from the Department of Government and Public Administration, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, She will begin her doctoral studies at Warwick Business School from September 2014.

Following is the gust blog from Fuk-Yin Tse. 

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Dock workers’ resistance and union reform in China’s global supply chain

We have a first guest post from Dr. Xuebing Cao, Keele University. Dr. Cao is one of presenters at our September workshop Chinese Labour in the Global Economy 

The September 2013 Yantian Dock strike is a prominent event of the recent Chinese labour movement, not only for it being settled with workers’ partial victory, but also due to its exposure of the ACFTU’s failure on workplace union reform. Moreover, the event showed Chinese dock workers’ persistent struggle with transnational capitalism within the global seaport industry.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Boundaries between Activist and Scholar

Opening session of the workshop on Chinese Labour in the Global Economy
A workshop on Chinese Labour in the Global Economy was held on 11 and 12 September 2014 at Nottingham University, co-hosted by the Centre for the Study of Social and Global Studies (CSSGJ) and the Centre for Contemporary Chinese Politics (CCCP). The purposes of the workshop were, firstly, to conclude the three-year research project; secondly, to create a platform between labour activists and scholars, between East and West. The purpose of this blog entry therefore is not only to reflect upon what happened during the workshop, but also briefly to summarise my observations of Chinese workers’ and labour studies over the past three years. I particularly focus on the joint efforts of labour scholars and activists, and I will explain the reason why.

As a student of labour affairs, the initiative for me to pay special attention to the role of activists was actually triggered four years ago, even before this project started. I interviewed a director of a Hong Kong labour organisation. She cordially agreed to the interview and gave me a general overview of the condition of Chinese workers. When I wanted to get some further information, she asked me a question: why should we (organisers of labour NGOs) need to give you information, if your job is either to write journal articles or to present conference papers, neither of which will necessarily help our work? On the contrary, your job will only expose our work of helping workers. Back then, I couldn’t answer her question, and indeed, that question has haunted me ever since. However, I think after three years’ work in the field, I have some answers for it.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Chinese workers in the grip of global capitalism: What possibilities for resistance?

This is a special guest post from Prof. Andreas Bieler, the Principle Investigator of our ESRC project. Andreas provides an overview of our final workshop on 11 and 12 September. Andreas' post could be a good starting point to document this workshop and further posts by some of the participants would be very appreciated.