Chinese Workers’ Uprising: Unions, Workers, and Resistance in China Today
Toronto — 30 October 2016. China has been the fastest growing major economy in the world for three decades. It is also home to some of the largest, most incendiary, … Watch video »
Toronto — 30 October 2016.
China has been the fastest growing major economy in the world for three decades. It is also home to some of the largest, most incendiary, and most underreported labor struggles of our time. But under China’s labor management system, independent unionism is severely restricted, and the ACFTU official trade union body monopolizes worker representation for more than 800 million workers. Independent organizations are barred from agitating for their interests, despite growing wealth inequalities, and where long hours, safety hazards, and authoritarian management define life in the factories.
But this has not prevented the emergence of workers’ resistance and fightbacks across almost all sectors of work. The China Labour Bulletin reports that the number of strikes has been increasing over the past two decades. At any given time, numerous strikes are taking place, and walkouts and slowdowns over work conditions and pay are a regular and growing occurrence. Workers’ rights NGOs, while operating from a distinct disadvantage, have become increasingly involved and visible.
Lu Zhang and Eli Friedman have each interviewed dozens of Chinese workers, from the auto sector to the factories producing computers and footwear, documenting the processes of migration, changing employment relations, and worker culture underpinning the new Chinese working class and their forms of resistance today.
Moderated by Winnie Ng. Presentations by:
- Lu Zhang teaches Sociology at Temple University in Philadelphia. She is the author of Inside China’s Automobile Factories: The Politics of Labor and Worker Resistance. [See review by Herman Rosenfeld: “The Roots and Contours of Worker Rebellion in a Changing China.”]
- Eli Friedman teaches international and comparative labour at Cornell University in Ithaca. He is the author of Insurgency Trap: Labor Politics in Postsocialist China, and China on Strike: Narratives of Workers’ Resistance (with Hao Ren and Zhongjin Li). See “The Life and Resistance of a Chinese Worker.”
Sponsored by: Asian Canadian Labour Alliance, Centre for Social Justice, Global Labour Research Centre at York University, Socialist Project, and the Unifor Sam Gindin Chair in Social Justice and Democracy.