Kuruvilla, Sarosh: 2012-2013 Seed Grant


Sarosh Kuruvilla (Industrial and Labor Relations)

Project Title: 
Development of Collective Bargaining in China: A Multidisciplinary International Conference and Research Project
Project Abstract: 
Although labor strikes are illegal, during the last 5 years there have been more than 400 recorded strikes in China. One consequence of this new found militancy amongst Chinese workers has been an increase in collective bargaining. There appear to be two emerging types of bargaining structures, one centralized at the sectoral (industry) level and one relatively decentralized at the company level. The purpose of this research project is to understand just how these two types of bargaining structures are becoming institutionalized in China. The question is crucial from a practical perspective given its implications for the bargaining power of workers and employers as well from a comparative research standpoint. Comparative industrial relations research has found that centralized bargaining is associated with greater labor strength in terms of union density, better bargaining coverage (and consequently better working conditions) and lower levels of industrial conflict. However these results have been found in democratic countries with a tradition of independent unionism. Whether sectoral bargaining or company-wide bargaining will prevail in China (where there is neither democracy nor independent unions), is an open question, which depends heavily on how these bargaining structures are becoming institutionalized. This process is the subject of our conference and collaborative multidisciplinary research project.