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The Impact of Economic Reform and Associated Changes in Regulatory and Institutional Arrangements on the Role of Trade Unions in the People's Republic of China
journal contributionposted on 2017-06-07, 05:51 authored by Wrathall, Jeff
As a result of a range of PRC government initiatives, including Deng Xiaoping's "Open Door" and "Four Modernizations" policies, the Chinese economy has undergone fundamental changes over the last two decades. Economic reform in the PRC has been supported and highlighted by China's recent entry into the WTO. This transformation in the Chinese economy has been associated with significant levels of reform in employment relations. These reforms have led to the development of clearer and closer links between labour-management relations and market forces. However, the real impact of these changes on the role of trade unions in the PRC is, by no means a straightforward one. New labour legislation has provided trade unions with greater scope than ever before in representing the interests of their members. However, transitions away from market dominance by State Owned Enterprises and the emergence of a robust private sector has led to a significant reduction in trade union influence. The situation is further complicated by the emergence and growth of foreign-funded joint ventures. This article examines the traditional role of trade unions in the PRC, as well as the key aspects of national culture influencing labour management relationships. It then explores the impact of recent economic changes, and the relationship between trade union roles and a range of organisational variables including location, ownership and size. It also explores the implications of current economic developments and cultural changes on the future of labour relations in the PRC.