China is one of the developed countries in the world. Besides, it has a large population which implies that the labor force is significant. It has recorded a fast growing economy. With the high growth of the economy, many jobs are available in China. Due to the increase in the labor force in the country, people migrate from the rural areas to the urban for employment. With the many employees and increase in the work force, there is a need for a labor union to help fight for the rights of workers (Budd 2000).
For example, staffs at the Tesco Company foresaw the closure of the business due to its poor performance in the market; this was after it began issuing goods at discount rates. The workers demanded their pay, but the bosses closed down the business during the night and flew with their salaries and benefits. It is the more reason the China employees indulge in the trade unions as they help protect their rights (Kaufman 2004).
This paper will focus on the labor unions in China. It will outline the history of the unions. Also, it will review its impact they have on employees and finally the limitations the unions have in protecting the workers (Budd 2000).
History of the trade unions in China
All trade unions in China are governed by one governing body known as All-China Federation of Trade Unions. It was formed in 1925. Its aim was to represent the rights and interests of all other small unions in the country collectively. The trade unions are based in various industrial centers. The registration is open to all income earners including the high and the low earners. The industrial centers are differentiated according to the activities practiced. The primary classification includes the Agriculture field, Husbandry, Forestry, mining manufacturing, construction and tertiary-based industries (Kaufman 2004). To register in the unions is through free will. However, the social benefits that come along with the membership ignite pressure to citizens to join the unions.
The unions operate at different levels. The smallest level belongs to the enterprise committee. They represent all employees working for small business. The next level is a provincial level where it is characterized by individual working in the same area. They may be operating at the county level, municipal or the provincial level. The highest level is the All-China Federation of Trade Union. It collectively represents all the trade unions (Lee 2007).
In China, the trade unions are a right movement. However, unlike in the western countries where the labor unions have several different organization structures, in China there exists just one structure of the union. It is the hierarchical structure. All the unions are governed by a significant ACFTU movement. The action ensures that there is no competition among the unions and that they serve the citizens at a fair range. Moreover, the Chinese unions are not self-governing unlike the unions of the western countries. They are managed by the Chinese Communist Party, who is partially sponsored by the companies and the Chinese government. The unions do not allow staffs to strike. Thus, they are not protected on discrimination and privileges denial once they participate in attacks (Kaufman 2004).
Roles of labor unions
Unions act as a go-between of employees and employers. They protect the workers rights that may be violated by the companies. Their main aim is to enhance social peace between the two parties. They represent the interest of employees in the labor force. They fight for factors that affect the employee such as the wage rate, benefits to the worker the type of contracts the staffs sign with their employers. They ensure that the employees are compensated and that they are well covered with the right insurance cover. The benefit covers include a medical cover, pension and other protections related to health care (Barth 2012).
Secondly, the unions intervene when the workers sign contracts with their employer. Most of the staff migrates from the rural to the urban areas in search of labor. Most of the private organizations may undermine the rights of the workers in the contracts. Therefore, the labor unions intervene. They help those migrants who do not understand the contracts.
Thirdly the labor unions support organizations to improve the energy production from the staffs. It is achieved through advocating for bonuses for the work performed by the workers. The workers aim high to be rewarded the bonuses. Workers are highly motivated by the bonus pay (Lee 2007).
The unions also look into other social payment such as overtime payment, working over hours. Through this the staffs are encouraged to work even part-time and more hours. The production level increases which leads to the company earning more profits. With rise in profit level the government earns more revenues from taxes. The economy status rises higher. With increase in profits and bonus the workers living standards improve and the economy of the state increases too.
The relationship between the employee and the employer is improved. Unions aim at creating harmony within the two parties (Barth 2012). It ensures that both sides are in agreement. The unions come in during contracts signing and negotiations between the company and the staffs. The unions work towards ensuring that their rights are exercised and for the company, the unions ensure that the workers deliver production maximization (Kaufman 2004).
The unions help harmonies the wage rate of the citizens. Wage has been ranked differently leaving inequalities. Some companies may tend to raise the pay rate of the higher class workers leaving, the lower class people and the middle class. Moreover, the differentiation between the wages rate of the white collar jobs and the blue collar. The union fights for the standardization of these jobs. In some cases, it argues that wage rates should be determined by the productivity of the worker.
Furthermore, the unions help protect the citizen from working in hazard places. Firms have been motivated to improve the working condition of the employees. For the dangers that cannot be controlled, the companies have ensured protection through insurance covers such as work insurance (Kaufman 2004).
Other roles that the unions have played include representation the labor laws and the rules that govern in employment act (Barth 2012). This labor law includes compensations and payment of the overtime worked hours. Additionally, the law that advocates vacations holidays and relief for staff are emphasized and protected by trade unions in China. The aim of the unions is to ensure the drafted legislation and rights of employees are exercised.
The unions work with the firms to ensure maximization of production. The unions set rules that limit the staffs. These rules are to ensure that the workers deliver the best and ensure they exercise discipline in their due course work (Barth 2012). Workers are bound to follow the code of standard exercised by the union.
The unions have an obligation to the government to make sure that there is economic development in their field. When unions ensure productivity is sufficient, the GDP of the country rises, and it impacts on the economic growth of the country. In some cases, when the salaries and wages of workers are improved, the living standards of the citizens improve and thus the growth I the economic level is attained.
With the idea that AFCU represents all trade unions in the country, the unions do not show similarity in delivering their work (Barth 2012). For example, when employers are faced by the bigger unions about their employees trade unions, they give excuses that the staff is not into the benefits achieved by smaller unions.
Also, the All-China Federation Trade Union has been criticized for not demonstrating the plights of workers. It has been viewed as a bureaucratically movement (Kaufman 2004). The union does not concentrate on the interest of the workers other than other factors. Its main aim is to maintain a peaceful relation between employers and employees and create coherence atmosphere in the society. Also, the ACFTU has been viewed to concentrate their support and attention to the small and upcoming unions.
Union drive is mainly triggered by the laborers force. In China, most workers have moved from the rural to the urban to seek employment. Most of they are temporarily attached to their works, and their aim is to achieve the income (Budd 2000). Thus, thy have minimal interest in joining the unions. Other workers have the phobia to adhere to the association due to the demoralization they will receive from their bosses.
The initial approach to establishing a real union that protects the citizens actually, the workers demand must be involved and the government to interfere too. It will be effective as it has been seen, some states have helped the staffs to demand better wages and the negotiations were successful (Barth 2012).However, some government does not support the workers because they fear that they may cause conflict with large investors, and they may withdraw their investments. The government tends to avoid economic breakdown due to the large investors withdrawing. The government official may delay the legal petition addressed to them by the employees. The Investigations may be affected by political channels, and they may lead to unfair rulings and the workers lose petitions in the courts.
In different views, the trade unions formed have varying reasons for their formation. Due to the diversification of the union structure across regions and time zones, the support from all the unions combined may not be robust enough to ensure independence in unions (Budd 2000). The unions will still be dependent on the companies and the organization thus very few rights of workers are proposed and achieved.
With the idea of having all trades using the same body structure and are mandated to using the same hierarchical system, the workers lights are not considered. The unions are not independent compared to unions of the western countries (Barth 2012). Workers through unions cannot go on strikes as they will be victimized and may lose their jobs. It implies that the wage increment will not be affected.
The differentiation in the industrial activity and the labor union do not support collective plights. Due to lack of unity, the unions fail to protect the workers. In a study conducted, during 2008 many employees left their jobs at the primary levels and advanced to the secondary and tertiary level. It resulted in a high firing of workers. The labor unions did not protect the staffs from the layoff (Budd 2000).
Unions may act as business agents where they instill discipline to staff. They come up with the code of rules that govern the workers (Kaufman 2004). They collaborate with the firms at an aim of maximizing production. They fail to listen to the employees, and they side with the employers.
For unions known to increase productivity and do not have any effect on the wages of the workers are more recommended by firm owners and the government. It contributes to rising government revenue and hence increases the GDP (Lee 2007).
Measurement of Trade Union Effectiveness
From the books and journals provided by the companies, they might give wrong information on the efficiency of employees and the impact the trade unions have on them. In the study of the effectiveness of the trade unions conducted, surveying method was used. The analyst reviewed the managers and the social responsibilities they practiced. The managers are driven by making the company look attractive and thus they may overstate how best they handle their staffs. The companies give wrong information to the records (Barth 2012).
The get the precise measure of the effectiveness of the unions better methods have to be applied. The density of the employee should be determined first. In the short-term analysis, the difference between the area covered by the union and the registration of members should help us get the density. For other factors that independent such as the employment, wage rate and the productivity of labor, we calculate the rate by first getting the data of the total workers in the region and the average amount of their wage rate (Budd 2000). This information is found in the China Labor Yearbooks. The GDP is derived at changing the population provided to a per capita measure.
Other steps can include the Union Density Trend. The trend shows a record of activities achieved in China. In the period of 1994 to 2008 the union, density decreased. The leading factor of the decrease level was the state at a reconstructing period this was termed as the reformation of the state. The state has bigger and powerful unions than those of the private sector business. During this time, workers moved from state-owned companies to private sectors. During that period, the union density decreased (Barth 2012).
Additionally, another method used is the data and variable method. The information used for this process is from the private sector entities. Determine the aggregate number of private companies, then sample out two provinces. Conduct a survey on the number of businesses in each region. Look out for the trade unions developed by the private sectors. The primary study is to see if there exist trade unions that govern the businesses. The results signify that the unions have different effect on different factors (Lee 2007).
In conclusion, the labor unions protecting and reinforcing the wage protection, especially trying to equalize the gap in the pay differentiation has been having been futile. The salary equalization movement has been more of theory analysis. It has been practically achieved. The only achievements the unions have made are the social benefits and welfare schemes. Secondly, the trade unions in China do not focus on the high-class individuals with a great income rate. The unions emphasize on protecting the low and middle-income earners in the society. Moreover, they have economically managed to raise the GDP of the state, and the productivity level of the staffs has significantly increased (Barth 2012).
However, the increase in productivity level of employees in China does not necessary imply that it was the impact of the labor unions. Other factors that do not relate to small income earners who are motivated by the labor unions may have changed on the productivity increase. Hiring more skilled workers may result to increase in production level (Budd 2000).
Due to the conflicting issues that cause coercions between workers and employees, the unions have to put more effort in fighting for workers interests (Barth 2012).The workers interest should be the primary objective of the unions the workers have less say in the working conditions provided. Moreover, they should strike a balance onto the support they give the employees and the firm owners. They should not neglect their responsibility to the government. To achieve an efficient harmony in the effectiveness of the union, they should strive to be independent. With independence thoughts, they are bound to express their roles at free rate with no bias attitude towards any party involved
Barth, E., & Moene, K. O. (2012) Employment as a price or a prize of equality: A descriptive analysis. Nordic Journal of Working Life Studies, 2(2), 5-33.
Budd, J. W., & Na, I. G. (2000). The union membership wage premium for employees covered by collective bargaining agreements: Journal of labor Economics, 18(4), 783-807.
Kaufman, B. E., Freeman, R., & Bennett, J. T. (2005) What Do Unions Do? The 2004 M-Brane Stringtwister Edition. What Do Unions Do? The Evidence Twenty Years Later: Journal of Labor Research XXVI (4).
Lee, C. K. (2007). Against the law: Labor protests in Chinas rustbelt and Sunbelt: Univ of California Press.
Lewis, H. G. (2003). Unionism and relative wages in the United States: an empirical inquiry. University of Chicago Press
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