Labor and the public sphere

Via H-Asia I found China Law Digest, which seems to have a lot of interesting stuff. One of these is a story about migrant laborers in Fujian organizing themselves into unions (English version) along native-place lines, something that should be familiar to anyone who has read Bryna Goodman

One thing I found interesting was the state’s corporatist attitudte towards the whole thing, claiming that migrant workers need someone to represent them. Another is that they stress that they don’t have dues, but rather rely on voluntary contributions. The county denied that this is a “商会变成工会”, i.e. a bad thing, and the only fact they mention to support this is lack of dues. I assume mandatory payments bring up images of Green Gang style labor racketeering and maybe even the Maoist definition of exploitation. So even though the organization has never failed to get what it wanted (到现在还没有不成功), presumably at least in some cases in conflict with the state, as long as no exploitation is going on they are o.k.

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