Changing industrial relations in China

The Yue Yuen Strike: Industrial Transformation and Labour Unrest in the Pearl River Delta

ISS PhD researcher Brandon Sommer has co-authored an article on labour relations in China.

Due to be published in Globalizations in 2017 (Globalizations 14(3)) the authors Stephan Schmalz, Brandon Sommer and Hui Xu, focus on a major factory strike at the Yue Yuen (YY) Gaobu shoe factory in Guangdong, China. They argue that the strike differs from earlier labour conflicts in terms of its class composition (middle-aged migrant workers) and in its demands (social insurance).

The authors identify three reasons for the strike:

  1. China’s rise is leading to a wave of capital relocation to lower wage countries. Accordingly, YY Gaobu faces increasing pressure, which contributes to a deterioration of working conditions to save costs.

  2. The Chinese Communist Party’s anti-corruption campaign is creating new spaces for YY workers to push their demands.

  3. There are increased worker protests regarding social insurance payments.

They conclude that the stike will have a lasting effect on Chinese labour relations because of this focus on social insurance.

More information

The online version of this article is available on the Globalizations website.