Abstract

Abstract:

In contrast to the workers who organize strikes in the West, Chinese workers lack support from official unions and have to rely on informal ways to strike. The previous literature suggests that worker-leaders have played a role in initiating wildcat strikes, and the engagement of labor NGOs has also facilitated grassroots activism. The focus of previous studies has been on the emergence, approaches, and strategies of the actors involved in different labor protests. However, we still know little about the direct or unintended consequences of the numerous strikes in South China. Based on fieldwork in the Pearl River Delta, this article explores how the informal strike organization built by workers, namely the "worker representative mechanism," contributes to favorable outcomes for labor. By conducting a comparative case study, this article identifies two important factors that have impacted strike outcomes: how this mechanism builds up a wider representation when the union is absent and how it sustains its core leadership for successive strikes and accomplishment of strike goals. By examining how workers build the representative mechanism that, in practice, acts as an informal strike organization, this article illustrates an alternative pattern of organization in strikes that bypasses trade unions and discusses its influences on emerging Chinese labor activism.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1015-6607
Print ISSN
1680-2012
Pages
pp. 109-133
Launched on MUSE
2020-03-10
Open Access
No
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