The Quest for Inclusive Development
Edited by Susan Hayter and Chang-Hee Lee
Chapter 5: Industrial relations and inclusive development in China: Connecting institutions and voice
China’s traditional industrial relations system went through crisis in the 1990s and early 2000s, with the dismantling of the lifelong employment regime of the state-owned enterprises. Informality and inequality increased. The Chinese state responded to the crisis by expanding formal institutions of industrial relations and adopting macro policies designed to arrest informalization and widening income gaps. There are signs that the new industrial relations institutions are delivering marginal gains for workers. There are also signs of ‘hybrid’ representation of workers at workplaces in Southern China. However, it has been difficult to connect institutions and voice. The national system of industrial relations continues to be premised on a representational monopoly of one union. This has limited the potentially positive effect of new labour market and industrial relations institutions on labour market outcomes.
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