Worker Organizing in China: Challenges and Opportunities.

Jenny Chan, 2021

Name of publisher/editor

Pluto Press

Geographic area




Summary & key words

Since the late 1970s, China’s integration into the global economy has greatly transformed migration patterns, labor relations, and worker self-organizing. Under the auspices of the state, China’s market reform has restructured the working class and reshaped the law and labor policy. Aggrieved workers have used both legal and extra-legal strategies to make economic and political demands. Despite some modest labor gains in wages and social insurance benefits, workers’ ability to organize remains severely restricted by employers and by the government. In times of crisis, workers have sought to establish self-help groups and reached out to labor activists for support. This chapter, in part based on the author’s participation in cross-border labor rights groups in Hong Kong and the mainland, will assess the changing relationship between the Chinese state, labor, and capital over the past four decades. In this way, it could be said to be a workers’ inquiry from above into the evolving technical composi- tion of capital and workers’ self-organized efforts to recompose their power in China.


Subject (Categories)

Worker Organizing in China: Challenges and Opportunities.