Edited by Susan Trevaskes, Elisa Nesossi, Flora Sapio and Sarah Biddulph
Chapter 2: Management of stability in labour relations
Workers occupy a central position in the ideology of the socialist state. In theory they continue to occupy the position of ‘masters’ of the country. They enjoy a range of constitutionally protected labour rights such as the right and duty to work; freedom of association, procession and demonstration; and the right to rest and to receive material assistance from the state and society when they are old, ill or disabled. Women and men enjoy equal rights. Workers’ rights are defined and given specific form by legislation and to a great extent are dependent upon state action for their fulfilment. Private civil law enforcement mechanisms exist, but in important respects are of limited scope and are ineffective to pressure for broader structural changes in either economic policy or the labour market. The right to subsistence and development underpins these rights. In the case of workers this right is articulated as a right to share the benefits of economic reform and development. The 12th Five Year Blueprint on Economic and Social Development (12th Five Year Plan) launched in March 2011 reaffirms that the ultimate objective of economic reform and modernization is to improve the people’s livelihood (Chapter 2: Fundamental Principles). This improvement is the explicit objective of establishing a moderately well-off society (xiaokang shehui), and in turn is understood to be key to underpinning social stability. The Harmonious Society Policy also articulates this idea; social stability is promoted through enabling all people to share the benefits of economic reform and development.
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