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Insurgency TrapLabor Politics in Postsocialist China$
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Eli Friedman

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780801452697

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801452697.001.0001

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At the Forefront of Union Reform?

(p.61) 3 Guangzhou
Insurgency Trap

Eli Friedman

Cornell University Press

This chapter asks the question: Can prolabor leadership at the municipal level advance the decommodification and incorporation of labor? Union practitioners (and some scholars) in China frequently suggest that leadership can make a very large difference in outcomes, since laws and regulations are often fuzzy and hence subject to interpretation in implementation. The chapter begins with an extended introduction to Chen Weiguang, chair of Guangzhou Federation of Trade Unions (GZFTU) and the man scholars and practitioners view as the most consistently prolabor union leader in China. His rise to power is in itself an indication of tentative first steps toward class compromise, as is the series of prolabor policies that were adopted under his guidance. However, an analysis of labor conditions in the enterprise with supposedly the best union in Guangzhou, Hitachi Elevator, shows that the limited levels of decommodification that have been secured came as a result of state action rather than from the union acting as worker representative.

Keywords:   prolabor leadership, China, Chen Weiguang, labor unions, decommodification, GZFTU

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