The purpose of this blog is to provide analytical commentary on formal and informal labour organisations and their attempts to resist ever more brutal forms of exploitation in today’s neo-liberal, global capitalism.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Chinese labour in the global economy

Prof. Andreas Bieler has been awarded a grant of £275k by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) for a project on ‘Globalisation, national transformation and workers’ rights: an analysis of Chinese labour within the global economy’ (RES-062-23-2777). The project will be located in the Centre for the Study of Social and Global Justice and includes a three-year fellowship for Dr. Chun-Yi Lee, who will be responsible for the empirical research in China. The project will start in October 2011 and run for three years.

The current restructuring in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is of phenomenal importance to the global economy. Millions of workers are added to the global workforce and it is cheap labour, which makes the PRC so attractive for foreign direct investment (FDI). Unsurprisingly, it is workers, who are most under pressure as a result. Chinese workers often work in conditions of super-exploitation, while workers elsewhere either become unemployed, because production is moved to the PRC, or they are pressured into accepting lower wages and worse working conditions through the threat of production transfer to China.

Prof. Bieler and Dr. Lee will investigate the role of Chinese labour within these structural changes at the production, national and international level. They will analyse to what extent trade unions and NGOs have been able to protect the interests of Chinese workers within China and through cooperation with international labour organizations.

Methodologically, this project will draw on existing data such as FDI flows and GDP levels, semi-structured interviews with workers and managers, representatives of the official Chinese trade union, informal labour organisations, the Chinese government, the International Trade Union Confederation and the International Labour Organization. Official documents of these organizations will also be consulted.

Prof. Andreas Bieler
Professor of Political Economy
University of Nottingham/UK

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22 November 2010