At a workshop on Law and Finance in Rising Powers, held at the Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge, Khalid Nadvi, Reader in International Development University of Manchester, and the research programme co-ordinator for the ESRCs Rising Powers and Inter-dependent futures programme, presented his work on labour standards in China. This podcast interview gives an overview.
Nadvi said: “Our paper has been looking at how our changing labour regulations are impacting on labour standards in China. The paper that we presented is an introduction to a special issue of the International Labour Review which is on this theme coming out in December 2014.
What we are trying to look at is how does the rise in the labour regulation that we have seen in China in recent years impact on questions around labour standards working around labour conditions and labour rights.
I think things are changing and what we are beginning to see in those changes is that increasingly there is an improvement in real wages. There has been a lot of labour activism and in fact grass roots activism with wild cat strikes and so on, and one of the consequences of that is that there has been a rise in real wages in much of the region along the coastal belt and pearl-river delta and the province of Guangdong. But the nature of the labour regime in China and the working conditions in China is varied and so if you move further inland to inner provinces you might still see very poor conditions and very harsh working environments.
We need to do more analysis of ways in which national, regional and local levels of government engage with this agenda. Looking at labour regulations and the law that has been passed is not going to be enough we need to see how they get implemented and what our evidence is pointing to is that the nature of that implementation varies at the local level. There are reasons why those variations take place.
When you look at the BRICS, Brazil is the most interesting it is a fascinating story of the ways in which regulation around law, around finance, around labour standards, have really moved ahead. Brazil is interesting and is almost an outlier. China falls somewhere in the middle and Russia is at the other extreme, where we don’t see very strong legal institutions beginning to take effect and so therefore we see all sorts of issues around corruption.”
More podcasts from the workshop on Law and Finance in Rising Powers,
Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge, December 9th 2014