中国工人运动观察报告2015-2017 (The Workers' Movement in China 2015-2017): A new report from CLB

中文摘要见下

In December 2015, the Chinese authorities launched a sustained and coordinated attack on civil society labour organizations in the southern province of Guangdong. Several activists were arrested and the organizations they worked for were disbanded. This brought to an end a crucial period in China’s workers’ movement (as outlined in previous China Labour Bulletin reports) in which civil society labour organizations essentially did the work of the trade union in building worker solidarity and helping to resolve disputes through collective bargaining with management.

However, as one door closed another one opened. In July 2015, the ruling Communist Party of China (CCP) ordered the country’s official trade union, the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) to initiate a series of reforms that would enable it to do a better job in representing ordinary workers and thus help address long-standing social and economic inequality in China.

Workers and labour activists celebrate victory in the Lide shoe factory dispute in the summer of 2015. Photo taken from the documentary film We the Workers.

In China Labour Bulletin’s latest (Chinese-language) research report on the workers’ movement in China (中国工人运动观察报告2015-2017), we examine the key developments in worker activism, civil society, trade unionism and government policy from 2015 to 2017. It was a period in which labour conflicts continued to erupt over an increasingly broad range of industries, within the construction and services sectors in particular: ordinary workers struggled to make a decent living and the CCP realised it had to take concerted measures to tackle the massive disparity between rich and poor that was threatening to destabilise the country.

The report comprises three sections. The first uses the 6,694 cases recorded on CLB’s online Strike Map during this three-year period to analyse workers’ collective actions and identify trends in the workers’ movement. The data illustrates how the lack of an established collective bargaining mechanism and the absence of an effective trade union at the enterprise level meant that workers had no option but to stage strikes and protests when their fundamental labour rights (to be paid in full and on time, to receive social insurance and severance pay when laid-off, etc.) were violated. The second section looks at how the work of civil society labour organizations showed the way forward for effective trade union representation by organizing and training workers, electing bargaining representatives and helping to turn wildcat strikes into productive negotiations with management. The third section shows how the CCP’s attempts to narrow the wealth gap in China will require the ACFTU to become a genuinely representative organization that can improve the lives of ordinary people. Up to this point however, the ACFTU’s efforts have fallen well short of the Party’s expectations. In the concluding section, CLB offers several constructive suggestions on how the ACFTU can further deepen reform.

The report makes the following specific observations:

  • With the continuing structural adjustment of the Chinese economy, traditional industries such as mining, iron and steel and manufacturing have declined while new service industries have expanded rapidly. There has been a concomitant decline in the proportion of collective actions by factory workers and a rise in the proportion of strikes and protests by workers in a broad range of new industries such as couriers, food delivery and other online service providers.
  • Worker protests, previously concentrated in the factories of the Pearl and Yangtze River Deltas diversified and spread across the whole country. The inland province of Henan, for example, recorded the most protests of any region by construction, transport and retail workers during the three-year period of this report. Collective actions by workers are now not only widespread but increasingly normalized.
  • The workers’ movement entered a new phase of more organized and purposeful collective action in which workers utilized the latest internet and telecommunications technology to more effectively pursue their objectives. Whereas in the past, strikes and protests could easily dissipate, workers now have the will and ability to engage in sustained collective action and bring about positive results through bargaining.
  • Civil society labour organizations demonstrated on numerous occasions that they were able to train workers to elect and protect bargaining representatives and initiate collective bargaining at the enterprise level. Although they lacked the organizational capacity of a trade union, these civil society organizations were still able to successfully resolve disputes and showed at a basic level how a trade union should operate. Indeed, they provided the ACFTU will a model of how to create a systematic bargaining mechanism and enhance the role of the union at the enterprise level.
  • The CCP initiated a new phase of trade union reform in China characterised by both top-down coercion from the Party and bottom-up pressure from the workers’ movement. The CCP understood that, if it was to maintain its own political legitimacy, it could no longer neglect the obscene wealth gap created by three decades of economic reform and a deliberate lack of government oversight. The desire of ordinary workers for a decent life and an end to social injustice made the task of transforming the trade union into a truly representative organization even more pressing.
  • The ACFTU began a series of reforms to its organizational structure, management model and operating mechanisms. At the grassroots level, the ACFTU sought to create new unions, recruit new members and protect the rights and interests of its members. However, the union has not really changed its basic identity, and the reform measures introduced so far still betray a paternalistic attitude, seeing workers as victims in need of help rather than persons of value in need of representation. As a result, workers still do not identify with the union or have a sense of belonging or commitment to it.

In conclusion, China Labour Bulletin argues that the ACFTU can no longer merely indulge in superficial structural reforms which in reality do more to protect its own vast self-interests than China’s workers. The reforms undertaken so far do nothing more than demonstrate the need for genuine trade union reform. It is now absolutely essential that trade union reforms allow workers to reclaim ownership of the union and for the union to represent workers (not itself) in collective bargaining with employers at the enterprise level. The union needs to be led and driven by those who believe in the core values of socialism — equality, justice and democracy. Only in this way can the trade union, long divorced from the workers’ movement, become a genuine member of China’s family of workers.

The report 中国工人运动观察报告 2015-2017 is published here as a PDF. Selected English-language extracts will be published in due course.

 

中文摘要

本报告是中国劳工通讯发布的第七期工人运动观察报告。在报告期内,中国劳工通讯的“工人集体行动地图”共收录了6694起工人集体行动个案。中国工人的集体行动继续呈增长趋势,并随着企业的迁移和新兴行业的兴起,从沿海城市向内陆省份、从传统行业向新兴行业扩散。这显示,集体劳资关系正在企业层面形成,为工人组织和劳资集体谈判创造了条件。报告期内,伴随着反腐败的深入,中国共产党领导层意识到,一方面反腐败为中共领导层赢得了巨大民意支持,另一方面包括企业工人在内的普通百姓,对自身利益在经济发展中所处的不公平地位也迅速觉醒。包括劳资矛盾在内的社会矛盾激化程度,已经越过了政治和民生临界点,并直接威胁到政权的合法性。为此,在报告期内,中国共产党历史上首次由最高层自上而下发动了群团组织改革。其中,中华全国总工会(以下简称“全总”)改革被定为群团组织改革的重点。中共最高层破例自上而下推动全总改革,旨在使工会能够在企业层面代表工人通过集体谈判参与初次分配,提高工薪阶层家庭收入,缩小贫富差距,重建政权合法性。

本报告分为三个部分,第一部分概括总结报告期内发生在全国各地各类企业的工人集体行动。随着企业层面集体劳动关系的快速形成,劳资关系的调整机制却仍然停留在个体劳动关系层面,工人在企业工资分配中仍然没有话语权。面对生活需要,越来越多的工人不再坐等制度,而是选择以集体行动的方式反抗违法侵权和提出工资诉求。第二部分通过个案分析,呈现中国劳工非政府组织(以下简称“劳工NGO”)介入工人集体行动的工作过程,尝试总结这些组织在将工人集体行动导入集体谈判轨道的过程中,所创造的可复制工作模式。第三部分析2015年开启的工会改革。首先分析了中共中央最高领导层启动此次改革的深层原因,然后描述了全总所采取的改革措施,其后将全总改革措施及其宣称的成果与现实情况进行比较,提出全总并未按照中共中央的要求进行改革。因此,工会改革必须进一步深化。最后对全总深化改革提出了建议。

在本期报告中,我们对中国工人集体行动、劳工NGO的工作和全总改革的观察可以概括为以下几点:

第一,工人集体行动的发展势头趋于强劲。在中国经济结构性调整、中央政府实施去产能战略、传统制造业衰落、新兴行业崛起的大背景下,工人的集体行动呈现出行业全面扩散的趋势,尤其表现为,传统制造业工人集体行动的个案比重下降,服务业和新兴行业(例如快递、送餐及“互联网+”等)的工人集体行动个案比重上升。

第二,工人集体行动呈区域蔓延趋势。工人集体行动正在从珠江三角洲、长江三角洲地区,迅速向内陆省份扩展。报告期内,发生在河南省建筑业、交通业、零售业的个案均居各省首位。

第三,工人的集体行动从过往以抗议和发泄不满为主的无序阶段,正在快速进入到更加理性的有序谈判阶段。这表现为,工人行动的组织性大大提高,行动的工具多样化,行动的目标趋于统一。个案显示,集体行动中的工人们虽然没有工会组织的支持,但通过劳工NGO的协助,却能够迅速掌握集体谈判的策略和技巧,并通过自己选举产生的谈判代表成功争取共同的诉求。

第四,劳工NGO对于工人转变维权方式发挥了重要作用。它们在介入工人集体行动中探索出一套工作模式,包括统一工人诉求、选举工人代表、培训工人代表、指导工人代表进行集体谈判、保护工人代表等等内容。这套模式为中国工会改革提供了样本。有理由相信,如果总工会各级工会组织能以这一工作模式为参照,参与到工人集体行动中,企业劳资集体谈判将快速形成,更加公平的企业一次分配将可以实现。

第五,中共最高领导层亲自启动了全总此次改革。中共作为执政党已经清楚地意识到,急速恶化的社会矛盾源于贫富之间的巨大差距,贫富差距源于社会财富分配不公,分配不公最重要的环节是企业工资分配不合理。中共希望通过提高企业工人的工资收入缓解总体社会财富分配不公问题,从而为政权合法性找到新的基础。中共最高层对全总寄予厚望,并亲自启动工会改革。

第六,2015年11月中共中央启动全总改革,要求各级工会去除“四化”( 机关化、行政化、贵族化、娱乐化),增强“三性”(政治性、先进性、群众性)。两年多来,全总在去除“四化”方面下了不少功夫,各级工会的组织体制、管理模式、运行机制和活动方式等方面都有所改观。但是,在增强“三性”方面却没有什么起色。社会主义核心价值仅仅是各级工会领导人和工作人员学习和考核的内容,并没有真正成为他们的人生价值观。反映在工会的具体工作中就是,各级工会仍然游离于企业劳资关系之外,企业层面的工会组织仍然处于老板和管理层的控制之下,工人在企业工资分配中仍然没有话语权。也就是,工会改革以来全总所采取的措施以及取得的进展,无论是与中共最高层解决分配问题的期望,还是与企业工人的实际要求,均存在着巨大差异。

第七,本报告提出,中华全国总工会的改革重点,在于重建工会的身份。首先,在企业层面,工会必须由企业工人选举产生,才能将企业工会从雇主和管理者的操控中解脱出来,企业工会才能真正代表工人与老板和管理者就工资待遇、职业健康、安全生产、工时休假、保险福利等进行谈判。另外,各级工会的领导人和工作人员,必须由具备社会主义核心价值观的社会主义者担任,才能确保工会作为工人利益代表者的身份。由社会主义者主导工会工作,在丛林法则大行其道的今天尤其重要。

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