China’s traditional industrial relations system went through crisis in the 1990s and early 2000s, with the dismantling of the lifelong employment regime of the state-owned enterprises. Informality and inequality increased. The Chinese state responded to the crisis by expanding formal institutions of industrial relations and adopting macro policies designed to arrest informalization and widening income gaps. There are signs that the new industrial relations institutions are delivering marginal gains for workers. There are also signs of ‘hybrid’ representation of workers at workplaces in Southern China. However, it has been difficult to connect institutions and voice. The national system of industrial relations continues to be premised on a representational monopoly of one union. This has limited the potentially positive effect of new labour market and industrial relations institutions on labour market outcomes.
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Susan Hayter and Nicolas Pons-Vignon
Janine Berg and Eduardo Schneider
Industrial relations is as relevant in emerging economies as it is in developed economies. The chapter examines the institutionalization of employment relations in five emerging economies: Brazil, China, India, South Africa and Turkey. The analysis reveals patterns of continuity and discontinuity. Many features of industrial relations remain path-dependent despite significant changes in the economic and political context in each of these countries. Democratic transition and the incorporation of organized labour and employers expanded the influence of these actors on economic and social policy. However, the liberalization of product and service markets placed pressure on industrial relations institutions. The degree to which these institutions have been able to contribute to inclusive development depended on a balance of associational and institutional power. This determined their capacity to influence labour and social policy at a macro level and to regulate flexibility at the workplace. High degrees of unemployment and informal employment pose internal constraints on industrial relations institutions and limit their potential to contribute to inclusive outcomes. This is compounded by a deepening representational gap and the increasing heterogeneity among members of employers’ and workers’ organizations. Without a concerted effort to expand labour protection through institutions for labour relations to all those who work, industrial relations will continue to be eroded and constrained in its ability to contribute to inclusive development.
Uma Rani and Ratna Sen
India has experienced an impressive annual growth rate of nearly 7 per cent since the mid-1990s. Yet this has not led to improvements in the quality of employment and the proportion of low-paid workers has increased over the decade to 2012 along with increasing inequality. The period has also seen an increase in informalization of industrial labour in India associated with greater use of subcontracting and contractual and temporary workers. This chapter assesses the role of industrial relations institutions in improving productivity, wages and incomes for workers. At the same time, it shows that collective bargaining has remained limited in scope and restricted to the formal sector. While there have been some attempts to reach out to workers in the informal sector, these have focused on securing basic welfare rights. The chapter examines emerging labour relations institutions that are delivering improvements to informal workers. It argues that to be more inclusive, the organizational basis for collective labour relations needs to be strengthened, drawing on new forms of voice in the informal sector.