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postgraduate thesis: Labor protest and grassroots trade union reform : a study on the automobile industry in South China

TitleLabor protest and grassroots trade union reform : a study on the automobile industry in South China
Authors
Advisors
Advisor(s):Tian, XLui, TL
Issue Date2017
PublisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)
Citation
Deng, Y. [邓韵雪]. (2017). Labor protest and grassroots trade union reform : a study on the automobile industry in South China. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR.
AbstractThe thesis examines the protests of autoworkers in South China, in order to un-derstand how autoworkers’ protests emerge in an authoritarian state with a Lenin-ist state-run trade union. It reveals that Chinese autoworkers have strong workplace bargaining power, and their protests are becoming more radicalized in recent years. However, at the same time, Chinese autoworkers’ protests are sys-tematically constrained by the state-run trade union system. The state-run trade union, which was an institutional legacy of the Leninist political system in the pre-reform era, has continually developed new strategies and took the opportunity of autoworker’s protests to reform and revitalize itself, and functioned to absorb the radicalized labor protests in post-socialist China. Based on 12 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Guangzhou, and in-depth inter-views with workplace union leaders, regional trade union officials and worker ac-tivists, the thesis demonstrates that the autoworkers’ strikes are becoming more radicalized in three ways. First, compared to labor protest in other industries, au-toworkers’ protests have surpassed legal activism, and demand economic justice and political inclusion far beyond the legal standard. Second, autoworkers have developed strategic and low-cost strike tactics to pressure their employers. Their actions have becoming more strategic, well-planned and organized in recent years than those of labor protest as have been described in existing literature. Third, there is an emergence of trade union consciousness among autoworkers. Auto-workers have launched continuous strikes demanding more workplace union autonomy from 2011 to 2015. Autoworkers’ protests therefore, have challenged both the authoritarian industrialization and the state-run trade union system. Despite the power of autoworkers, and the radicalized labor protests, workers’ request for trade union right and collective bargaining right is still under state con-trol. This is because the state-run union at the regional level has kept coming up with new strategies and institutional reforms to re-institutionalize autoworkers’ protests. In order to protect its legitimacy and increase its responsiveness, the re-gional union has promoted workplace union election to revitalize workplace un-ions and incorporate workers into the union system; and strengthened workplace collective bargaining system, which allow workers to formulate economic de-mands to their employers. By taking institutional reform, the regional union has created channels for workers to express their economic demands within the state-run union system, and therefore released workers’ resentment towards the official union. The regional union, by expanding political space for workers’ participation, has acted as a buffer between the state and workers, and postponed the emergence of a more radicalized and independent labor movement. Nevertheless, the institutional reform of the regional union has in fact elevated the trade union consciousness of workers. In addition, autoworkers have been utilizing reformed trade union sys-tems, especially elected workplace trade unions and collective bargaining system, to negotiate their collective interests. Therefore, the institutional reform also created an opportunity for autoworkers to change the state-run trade union at the grassroots level. The dynamic relations between autoworkers’ protests and the re-gional union’s reforms have significantly influenced the labor relations in the au-tomobile industry in South China.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy
SubjectAutomobile industry - Guangzhou - Strikes and lockouts - China
China - Labor unions - Guangzhou
Dept/ProgramSociology
Persistent Identifierhttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/244334

 

DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.advisorTian, X-
dc.contributor.advisorLui, TL-
dc.contributor.authorDeng, Yunxue-
dc.contributor.author邓韵雪-
dc.date.accessioned2017-09-14T04:42:20Z-
dc.date.available2017-09-14T04:42:20Z-
dc.date.issued2017-
dc.identifier.citationDeng, Y. [邓韵雪]. (2017). Labor protest and grassroots trade union reform : a study on the automobile industry in South China. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR.-
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/244334-
dc.description.abstractThe thesis examines the protests of autoworkers in South China, in order to un-derstand how autoworkers’ protests emerge in an authoritarian state with a Lenin-ist state-run trade union. It reveals that Chinese autoworkers have strong workplace bargaining power, and their protests are becoming more radicalized in recent years. However, at the same time, Chinese autoworkers’ protests are sys-tematically constrained by the state-run trade union system. The state-run trade union, which was an institutional legacy of the Leninist political system in the pre-reform era, has continually developed new strategies and took the opportunity of autoworker’s protests to reform and revitalize itself, and functioned to absorb the radicalized labor protests in post-socialist China. Based on 12 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Guangzhou, and in-depth inter-views with workplace union leaders, regional trade union officials and worker ac-tivists, the thesis demonstrates that the autoworkers’ strikes are becoming more radicalized in three ways. First, compared to labor protest in other industries, au-toworkers’ protests have surpassed legal activism, and demand economic justice and political inclusion far beyond the legal standard. Second, autoworkers have developed strategic and low-cost strike tactics to pressure their employers. Their actions have becoming more strategic, well-planned and organized in recent years than those of labor protest as have been described in existing literature. Third, there is an emergence of trade union consciousness among autoworkers. Auto-workers have launched continuous strikes demanding more workplace union autonomy from 2011 to 2015. Autoworkers’ protests therefore, have challenged both the authoritarian industrialization and the state-run trade union system. Despite the power of autoworkers, and the radicalized labor protests, workers’ request for trade union right and collective bargaining right is still under state con-trol. This is because the state-run union at the regional level has kept coming up with new strategies and institutional reforms to re-institutionalize autoworkers’ protests. In order to protect its legitimacy and increase its responsiveness, the re-gional union has promoted workplace union election to revitalize workplace un-ions and incorporate workers into the union system; and strengthened workplace collective bargaining system, which allow workers to formulate economic de-mands to their employers. By taking institutional reform, the regional union has created channels for workers to express their economic demands within the state-run union system, and therefore released workers’ resentment towards the official union. The regional union, by expanding political space for workers’ participation, has acted as a buffer between the state and workers, and postponed the emergence of a more radicalized and independent labor movement. Nevertheless, the institutional reform of the regional union has in fact elevated the trade union consciousness of workers. In addition, autoworkers have been utilizing reformed trade union sys-tems, especially elected workplace trade unions and collective bargaining system, to negotiate their collective interests. Therefore, the institutional reform also created an opportunity for autoworkers to change the state-run trade union at the grassroots level. The dynamic relations between autoworkers’ protests and the re-gional union’s reforms have significantly influenced the labor relations in the au-tomobile industry in South China.-
dc.languageeng-
dc.publisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)-
dc.relation.ispartofHKU Theses Online (HKUTO)-
dc.rightsThe author retains all proprietary rights, (such as patent rights) and the right to use in future works.-
dc.rightsThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.-
dc.subject.lcshAutomobile industry - Guangzhou - Strikes and lockouts - China-
dc.subject.lcshChina - Labor unions - Guangzhou-
dc.titleLabor protest and grassroots trade union reform : a study on the automobile industry in South China-
dc.typePG_Thesis-
dc.description.thesisnameDoctor of Philosophy-
dc.description.thesislevelDoctoral-
dc.description.thesisdisciplineSociology-
dc.description.naturepublished_or_final_version-
dc.date.hkucongregation2017-
dc.identifier.mmsid991043953697603414-

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