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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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Worker Insurgency and the Evolving Political Economy of the Pearl River Delta

Worker Insurgency and the Evolving Political Economy of the Pearl River Delta

Chapter:
(p.131) 5 Worker Insurgency and the Evolving Political Economy of the Pearl River Delta
Source:
Insurgency Trap
Author(s):

Eli Friedman

Publisher:
Cornell University Press
DOI:10.7591/cornell/9780801452697.003.0005

This chapter looks at how unions respond to particular instances of worker resistance and how these responses evolved in the period 2007–10. It compares two strikes that in many ways were similar—the little-known Ascendant Elevator strike and the famous Nanhai Honda strike—but produced very different outcomes. In the Ascendant case, insurgent workers resisted commodification, encountered inaction and passive repression from the union, and ultimately failed to win any victories. In the Honda case, on the other hand, the strikers were able to “boomerang” around repressive local authorities to win the support of the provincial and central state, which then opened up the space for better organization and greater militancy. These two cases demonstrate that even if unions continue to fail to incorporate workers in the aftermath of the strike wave, the pressure generated by worker resistance is forcing continual adjustments, fixes, and occasional compromises. Such a dynamic will remain an ongoing feature of China's process of capitalist industrialization.

Keywords:   labor unions, worker resistance, labor conflict, strikes, labor relations, China

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