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China and ILO Fundamental Principles and Rights At Work

Editor-in-chief Roger Blanpain†,
Guest editor Ulla Liukkunen, Chen Yifeng


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Bulletin of Comparative Labour Relations Volume 86

Although China is not new to labour law – it was among the founders of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in 1919 – labour conditions in China today are the subject of concern to observers both inside China and in the international community. In response, China has devoted much attention recently to reforming its labour law system, a process driven by a political reorientation towards labour protection in the context of economic globalization. However, labour disputes and labour unrest continue to proliferate.

Using as its starting point an international research seminar held at Helsinki University in January 2013, this volume gathers a remarkable array of academic perspectives on China and its legal system by scholars from China, the United States, and Europe into a stimulating and unique combination of commentary and analysis of the challenges relating to implementation of fundamental labour rights as spelled out in the landmark 1998 ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work in the Chinese setting. Importantly, the analysis fully takes into account action in relation to the promotion of labour rights by not only the Chinese government but local governmental authorities, trade unions, enterprises, and other actors. Each author focuses on a different aspect of how these fundamental labour rights operate in the Chinese legal environment and the kinds of obstacles met in their protection. Among the issues that arise are the following:

  • gaps between ILO conventions and Chinese national laws occurring in the transformation of international obligations into domestic laws;
  • how parties to a labour dispute cases may invoke ILO conventions before courts or administrative authorities;
  • market obstacles caused by linking trade with observance of labour standards;
  • the trade union rights framework in China;
  • bottom-up pressures from workers’ collective action;
  • conflicts between Chinese state-owned enterprises and their employees;
  • complications in informal employment labour relations;
  • the growing divide between statute law and legal practice;
  • implementation of the anti-discrimination law;
  • discrimination due to China’s household registration system; and
  • corporate social responsibility.
Many of the challenges relating to implementation of fundamental labour rights discussed in this volume can be considered common to many countries. The book offers new research questions and a wider scope of analysis, and also provides new tools for discussion regarding the promotion of fundamental labour rights. In that sense, this volume relates not only to research on labour issues in China but also to global research concerned with an increasingly pressing challenge of our time. For these reasons, it will be of tremendous value to academics in labour law, trade law and comparative law, and greatly useful to practitioners in these fields.

Last Updated 01/20/2014
Update Frequency As Needed
Product Line Kluwer Law International
ISBN 9789041149848
SKU 10058890-0001
Table of Contents

Notes on Contributors.


Chapter 1. Introduction; U. Liukkunen, Chen Yifeng.

Chapter 2. The ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and Its Implementation in China; K. Tapiola.

Chapter 3. The International Labour Organisation and Labour Governance in China 1919–1949; Chen Yifeng.

Chapter 4. The Evolution of Collective Labour Law with ‘Chinese Characteristics’? ‘Crossing the River by Feeling the Stones?’ M. Zou.

Chapter 5. Collective Bargaining in China: Laws, Problems, and Prospects; Zheng Shangyuan.

Chapter 6. Will Labour Unrest Lead to More Democratic Trade Unions in China? C. Estlund, S. Gurgel.

Chapter 7. The Right to Work and Rights at Work: Gender Implications; V. Brás Gomes .

Chapter 8. Employment Discrimination Legislation and Practice in China in the Context of ILO Discrimination Convention No. 111: Successes, Challenges and Dynamics of Change; M. Paavilainen.

Chapter 9. New Developments in Anti-discrimination in the Workplace in China: Law and Practice; Xie Zengyi .

Chapter 10. Transnational Labour Law and Fundamental Labour Rights – Making Chinese Workers Matter? U. Liukkunen. .

Chapter 11. Marginalized International Organizations: Three Hypotheses Concerning the ILO; J. Klabbers.

Chapter 12. Afterword: Globalization, Rights, and Work in the Chinese Transformation; T. Ruskola.