The outbreak of strikes at foreign-invested enterprises in China during the summer raises significant questions about the future of China’s industrial work force, and highlights a number of tensions at play. The questions involve different sectors of Chinese society, including business; government, including the state-controlled labor union; the All-China Federation of Labor Unions (ACFTU), and the work force. The core question is how the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will adjust to stronger demands from China’s workers, perhaps supported by a newly more active ACFTU – and the extent to which those demands are seen by the CCP as being at odds with the party-state’s fixation on maintaining social stability above all else. To complicate the picture further, central government support of more vigorous union activity may conflict with local governments’ concern to increase investment in industry.
28 September 2010