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Title: Impact of labour reform on labour rights in China : workers' perspectives
Other Titles: Zhongguo lao dong gai ge dui lao dong quan zhi ying xiang : gong ren jiao du zhi yan jiu
中國勞動改革對勞動權之影響 : 工人角度之研究
Authors: Kwok, Rita Hoi Yee (郭凱儀)
Department: Dept. of Applied Social Studies
Degree: Doctor of Philosophy
Issue Date: 2004
Publisher: City University of Hong Kong
Subjects: Employee rights -- China
Labor -- China
Labor policy -- China
Notes: CityU Call Number: HD8736.5.K86 2004
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 335-352)
Thesis (Ph.D.)--City University of Hong Kong, 2004
ii, 427 leaves : ill. ; 30 cm.
Type: Thesis
Abstract: The transition from a planned economy to the socialist market one had imposed drastic changes in the labour system in China. Workers’ rights and interests were inevitably affected. The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of labour reform on the perceptions of workers regarding labour rights. A qualitative study involving in-depth interviews with 46 workers, both in the private and public sectors was conducted in a city in South China to obtain the primary source of data, while secondary sources were supplemented by official documents, studies by Chinese scholars and experts, and labour presses. The analysis of the data was mainly based on Hohfeld’s classification of judicial relations, which had been widely adopted to study the concepts of rights. Hohfeld contends that rights can be classified into four clusters of (1) claims; (2) liberties; (3) powers; and (4) immunities. Findings from this study revealed that at the policy level, enactment of new laws such as the Labour Law (1995), and revision of the Trade Union Law had resulted in some rebalancing of rights among the four clusters, but claims still occupied the most prominent position, reflecting the official stance of preference and recognition of claims over others types of rights. At the workers levels, findings showed that in general, workers were negative towards the changes of their labour rights. Reduction or replacement of claims with other rights, as in the case of employment and welfare rights, aroused the strongest opposition, particularly among the older workers who equated that as a broken promise. Introduction of new liberties such as freedom to choose occupations and job mobility were welcome by all, but older workers were pessimistic about their chances of exercising such rights. Workers were cynical about the granting of unequal share of powers to the employers and the trade union and were resentful of their declining power status due to the reform policies. The loss of immunities against dismissal invoked negative feelings from the older workers and was a great source of insecurity, but younger workers were generally indifferent to the changes. Workers also displayed distrust and cynicism towards relying on the legal system or the trade union to fend for their rights. The revision of the Trade union Law had not been successful to convince the workers that trade union could genuinely represent their interest as they continued to perceive the trade union as a bureaucracy of the government. Workers in the public sector were generally more knowledgeable about the national Labour Law promulgated in 1995 than their counterparts in the private sector. On the whole, the Labour Law was considered formalistic in nature and could not be adequately enforced within the current socio-political environment of China. Thus, the gap between the official proclamation of governance by law and workers perception of the reality is substantial.
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