HRM Sample Paper
Chinese Workers in Comparative Perspective with the United States
In the recent past, China has been a favorite destination for a majority of global corporations because of its low wage rates and labor laws that inhibit the formation of independent trade unions. Evidently, trade unions normally trigger strikes as they seek to create favorable working conditions for their members. However, inChina, there are no trade unions to help workers fight for their rights. Nonetheless, the country’s industrial workers have been pushing for the provision of better wages, working conditions, and flexible working hours (Hernandez, 2016). Moreover, through the collective action of various workers from different industries, the country has been experiencing strikes in various sectors of the economy. Workers in the country want its industries to comply with the set international labor law standards. They are pushing their employers to the bargaining table with the aim of pushing for the provision of an ideal working environment even in the absence of an existing labor relations institution or law. Accordingly, following the rise of strike incidences in China, it would be ideal if the Chinese government looks at how other developed countries such as the United States handle their labor sectors to minimize the labor unrest.
Chinese employees are some of the most exploited in the developing world. Firstly, the country does not meet international labor law standards. Its workers are not free to choose representatives who can foster the attainment of collective bargaining with their employees. The country lacks laws that can compel employers to provide a conducive working environment for its employees with (Chan, 2015). A majority of the employees working in China’s industrial sector especially in mines, mills, transport hubs, and warehouses have negligible say in the selection and maintenance of their union representatives. As of 2010, workers in China did not have the right to organize trade unions of their choice. In fact, legal trade unions were required to be affiliated to the country’s All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU), as well as to comply with its control. Despite the creation of a variety of efforts to create wage consultation systems, the right to have collective bargaining for the Chinese is restricted. Today, the government has allowed strikes to take place as a way of creating a collective bargain. There have also been significant improvements over the years, whereby the government has created policies calling for the creation of better working conditions and wage payments for its employees in different sectors. The inhibition of the freedom of association in China may have played an influential role in suppressing Chinese employees’ wage rates as well as their basic human rights.
Compared to America, China faces significant challenges with reference to the creation of a labor union that fosters for the recognition of the efforts of its workers. For instance, workers in the United States have the freedom of association, which their Chinese counterparts lack. China has an authoritarian labor system that is unfavorable to its workers. In contrast, the American labor system is one to be emulated because it gives its employees the freedom of starting a strike, selecting trade union representatives who can lodge their complaints to employers and the government, as well as advocating for the provision of a supportive working environment. Critics argue that China’s authoritarian system of its unsupportive working environment stems from its history as a socialist nation (Ceglowski&Golub, 2012). With regard to the management of workers,the country’s systems have adopted an authoritarian management style whereby it has asserted its control over almost all the sectors of the economy. In the United States, trade union leaders have the right to call for strikes when employers fail to meet their end of the bargain regarding employment. There are instances where the court may act as an arbitrator with the aim of resolving any disputes between employers and their employees.
Recently, however, the Chinese government has allowed the country’s employees to champion for their rights to a certain extent. Nonetheless, the tides of strikes being experienced in the country give the indication that the country did not lay down an ideal framework upon which workers could lodge their complaints, come to an agreement with their employers, and get device appropriate methods of resolving disputes between employers and their employees. In fact, experts argue that when the government allowed protests on labor issues, it failed to create relevant structures that would ensure that an agreement was reached. Worse still, China’s growing population is bound to present challenges considering that the country’s economy is now slowing down after growing at a breakneck speed.
Meanwhile, in both the United States and China, the significant complaints lodged in the labor sector have focused on the airing of grievances on issues such as wage, poor working conditions, and pension contributions. Likewise, workers in both countries tend to refrain from associating themselves with political attacks. However, the methodology of responses to such grievances is not the same in the two countries. For example, the Chinese government sees the strikes as a threat to the country’s growth. The president views thems as a persistent challenge to the ruling Communist Party. Consequently, instead of creating environments upon which discussions on the rights of workers may be discussed, the government has been squashing protestors and dismantling labor organizations. In the United States, labor union disputes are handled in a much different manner. In fact, the government creates a provision for employers to give their best offers and reach an agreement with their employees. To a certain extent, critics of the Chinese methodology of handling disputes lament that its industrial relations system cannot amicably resolve disputes between employers and employees (Morrisson, 2013). This outcome is attributed to the fact that the state has been the major player in the organizing and restructuring of the country’s economy through global integration. In this process, the state has allowed its systems to adopt two-tier workforce systems that are responsible for controlling the country’s labor systems. Moreover, the country ensures that the workers’ bargaining power does not undermine its competitiveness through various political campaigns. The government believes that it may lose its control as the market leader under the current forces of globalization,
In the United States, the intimidation and coercion of workers in order to make them to go back to work without addressing their grievances is forbidden by law. The U.S. system of government demands that workers should not be punished for their participation in strikes or similar activities that aim at ensuring that their rights are advanced. In contrast, a majority of workers who take part in strikes in China are forced to go back to work for fear of losing their jobs. In fact, the outcomes of recent strikes by mining-sector employees demonstrate that the country is reluctant to offer better-working conditions because it is also struggling with wage-bill challenges and some of its workers are jobless (Allen, Qian&Qian, 2005). Those who openly take part in the strikes are either punished or laid off.
Another sensitive subject that Chinese laws do not follow up is the payment of pension to employees. In the United States, employees are actively involved in ensuring that their payments to the pension fund are remitted and also paid out in time. However, in China, workers have experienced incidences whereby their employers close operations even before paying out the pension demands. The government has also been reluctant to make follow-ups to ensure that the country’s labor laws are followed. The expectation among government officials is that all employers will comply with the payment of dues of its employees (Chan, 2015). Moreover, its structures for resolving the labor disputes have equally been weak, thereby rendering the country incapable of protecting its employees from such rip-offs.
In conclusion, China is undergoing rapid reforms in its labor sector because of the change in the outlook of its labor force. Today’s workers are more informed and are likely to demand higher wages. Consequently, the country should have reliable systems through which major disputes with employees can be resolved. China should be fast in advocating for the creation of a supportive working environment just like its developed counterpart, America. Failure to champion for the creation of a supportive labor structure implies that the country may lose its skilled workforce to the developed and developing countries whose labor laws are strongly in support of the worker.
Allen, F., Qian, J., &Qian, M. (2005). Law, finance, and economic growth in China. Journal of financial economics, 77(1), 57-116.
Ceglowski, J., &Golub, S. S. (2012). Does China still have a labor cost advantage? Global Economy Journal, 12(3), 1-28.
Chan, A. (2015). Chinese workers from a comparative perspective. New York, NY: Cornell University ILR Press.
Hernadez, J. C. (2016). Labor protests multiply in China as the economy slows, worrying leaders. The New York Times. Retrieved fromhttp://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/15/world/asia/china-labor-strike-protest.html?_r=0.
Morrison, W. M. (2013). China’s economic rise: History, trends, challenges, and implications for the United States. Current Politics and Economics of Northern and Western Asia, 22(4), 461-506.
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