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Collective Bargaining and Changing Industrial Relations in China.

Lessons from the U.S. and Germany

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Siqi Luo

This study focuses on the status and prospects of collective bargaining in China based on lessons learned from the post-war United States and Germany. The author regards collective bargaining as a type of core wage regulation that emerged from production regimes at the factory level and from economic and labor policies of the state. This analysis compares the production regimes and the state-labor-capital relations in China today with the U.S. and German models in order to identify the missing links as well as potential driving forces in the current system of collective contract in China. Finally, the author proposes an ideal model of collective bargaining in China, one that offers solutions to a more just and sustainable trajectory of industrial development and that tailors to the power status of the major actors in industrial relations.

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Wage regulation in China: Is Fordism coming back?

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This chapter compares the experience of collective bargaining in China in order to uncover the key aspects that differ from the effectiveness of collective bargaining and wage regulation processes in the United States and in Germany. I draw these comparisons through analysis of current global economic and political environment, industrial and production trends, specific development path of China, and the state-capital-labor relations within the industrial relation system of China. I argue that the successes in the Chinese model of collective bargaining and industrial relations mainly depend on whether this model is able to normalize the capital relations in existing accumulation regimes as well as to develop a fairer society. Furthermore, this chapter explores the institutionalization of collective bargaining in China. As history shows, the institutionalization of collective bargaining must result from the combined endeavor of all major actors in collective bargaining - workers and trade unions, employers, and state. As the global economy as well as the development path and industrial relations of China have largely varied from those of the post-war US and Germany, general observations cannot determine the successes of collective bargaining in a specific country today. In particular, the social institutions that organize, regulate, and motivate production and consumption, must be taken into consideration. For instance, while trade unions today face globally similar economic pressures and social changes, they often respond in different ways (Boyer, 1995). This is clearly demonstrated in the different strategies of the German and U.S. Labor movements in response to the 1970s crisis....

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