Regional Collective Contract System in China

TitleRegional Collective Contract System in China
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsSong, Y.
PublisherScientific and Technical Documentation Press
CityBeijing
Keywordsbargaining, collective contract, labor regulation, labor relations, negotiation
Abstract

Explores the system of making collective contracts in China based on regions, above the level of the enterprise. Since 1978, the market reform in China has significant influences on the political-economic environment in which China's labour relations take place, and the result has been a major transformation in the latter. A key issue for labour relations in China is how to regulate labour relations effectively and maintain a stable relationship between employee and employer. Due to the inherent limitations in individual forms of labour regulation, there has been recognition of the need for the regulation of collective labour relations to function more effectively. In recent years, regional collective contract/ consultation system has been promoted to supplement the existing system based at the level of the enterprise. This thesis examines the new regulatory mechanism of regional collective contract system from field work in two of the key cities where this form of agreement is being developed, and uses case studies of regional level collective contracts, supplemented by qualitative interviews, statistics and documents from the district, municipal and national levels. This thesis reviews the development of the regional collective contract system, both from the formal provisions and the practice, and demonstrates the operation of this system from the parties, the processes and the outcome. By explaining the dynamics of the regional collective contract system, this thesis further investigated the efficacy of the system based on a pivotal question as to whether the regional collective contract is reached through negotiation? Locating the regional collective contract system within the regulatory framework of labour relations in China, this thesis has some significant findings. While the formal provisions are increasingly supportive to the regional system, the primary focus still remains on the enterprise level. The ambiguities and the lack of consideration for the peculiarity of the regional level in those provisions have led to discrepancy in implementation. The availability of enterprises' representatives affects the procedures for reaching the regional collective contract and the form it takes. With the absence of the enterprises' organisation at the regional level in most cases, the union tends to simplify the procedures and adopt a decentralised way of dealing with each individual enterprise. The negotiation process is, thus, less emphasised at the regional level, and the contract is signed at the enterprise level. Furthermore, being influenced by the union's tradition of administrative role, the promotion of the regional collective contract system still follows the top-down pattern and is assessed against the assigned quotas. With few direct connections with the employees and much noncooperation from the employers, the union fulfills its task with formality-like contract or compromised terms. Notwithstanding the above, by moving the collective contract beyond a single enterprise and engaging the regional union, the regional collective contract system not only provides a countermeasure for regulating labour relations in the fast increasing small private enterprises, but also has potentials to overcome the defects in the Chinese enterprise-level collective contract system by a union which is more independent of the employer and with cadres who are devoted and have the capacity to negotiate for the employees' interests.