Photo: Clean ICT (CC)

The article ‘The Collective Resistance of China’s Industrial Workers‘ authored by Dr. Jenny Chan, assesses collective resistance in China and the role of workers in changing industrial power relations.

Photo: Clean ICT (CC)

China is a global economic power but its industrial sector is characterised by the mistreatment of workers in favour of efficient, quick and low-cost manufacturing. This is supported by an authoritarian government which fails to recognise workers’ rights to self-organisation and collective bargaining. The Chinese state also continuously suppresses the activities of NGOs and labour organisations who seek to support workers and address the unfair power relations between the state, companies, and workers.

As a result, workers have had to rely heavily on their own abilities to fight for sociopolitical and economic justice, with mixed success. Yet by disrupting the production chain, these protests may offer a way to bargain with employers, and state officials, thereby shifting the dynamics between labour, capital, and the state. This is particularly true if localised pockets of resistance across the country can develop and become a broader social movement against the norms and power relations in China’s manufacturing economy.

Download Jenny Chan (2018) The Collective Resistance of China’s Industrial Workers (Chapter 6 in Global Perspectives on Workers’ and Labour Organisations, edited by Maurizio Atzeni and Immanuel Ness. Singapore: Springer. p107-125)