Labour and wages in china changing dynamics
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Labour and Wages in China: changing dynamics. Paul Bowles Professor of Economics and International Studies University of Northern British Columbia Presentation to Group of 78 Ottawa, September 28, 2013. High levels of wage inequality Little protection for workers

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Labour and Wages in China: changing dynamics

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Labour and wages in china changing dynamics

Labour and Wages in China:changing dynamics

Paul Bowles

Professor of Economics and International Studies

University of Northern British Columbia

Presentation to Group of 78

Ottawa, September 28, 2013


Labour and wages in china changing dynamics

  • High levels of wage inequality

  • Little protection for workers

  • No independent Trade Unions or autonomous labour organizations

  • Toxic combination of state and market


Labour and china s growth path

Labour and China’s growth path

  • High investment, low share of private consumption

  • State sector layoffs (xiagang)

  • Growth of private sector and quasi-private sectors

  • Migrant workers, gender, and rural-urban mobility

  • Facilitated by local governments in sending and receiving locations


Labour and wages in china changing dynamics

  • Lewisian labour surplus transfer as key component of growth

  • East Asian authoritarian developmental state


Changing dynamics

Changing dynamics

  • Market-led

    • End of the labour surplus and rising wages in coastal areas

    • Technological up-grading in coastal areas

    • Firms migrating inland

  • State-led

    • The leadership’s Polanyian dilemma

    • The new Labour Contract Law 2008

    • Legal channels and dispute resolution

    • Local cadre advancement and public order

    • Changing treatment of migrant workers


Labour and wages in china changing dynamics

  • Worker-led

    • Strikes and suicides

    • Second-generation migrant workers

    • Representation through ACFTU


A new development path

A new development path?

  • Domestic demand/wage-led growth

    • Imprecise concept

    • Objective through at least past three FYPs

    • No sign of success; why?

    • Economic obstacles: propensities and elasticities in key relationships

    • Political obstacles: state-industry-finance nexus


What should canada do

What should Canada do?

  • Neither hectoring on nor ignoring labour rights

  • Dialogue, bargaining and demonstration effects

  • Dialogue: government and TUs? And businesses in Canada

  • Bargaining: What does China want?


Labour and wages in china changing dynamics

  • Demonstration effects

  • Domestic demand/wage led growth? Export-led in Germany, finance-led in U.S.? Austerity? International architecture reform

  • Core labour standards and trade

    • WTO, TPP

    • Bilateral agreements (e.g. Colombia)

    • Labour-friendly trade agreements


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