The New Labor Contract Law in 2008: China’s Legal Absorption of Labor Unrest

Parry Leung, Alvin Y. So


Since labor protests in China are not directed at the post-socialist party-state but only directed at individual enterprise on a case-by-case basis, the Chinese party-state has articulated a response what can be called “legal absorption of labor conflict” by setting up new labor legislations more congruence with the interests of labor. The aim is to improve the wage and other compensation for individual workers without at the same time leading to the rise of working class at a collective level to form a class-wise organization or to engage in a collective social movement. However, previous labor laws set up before 2008 have failed to stop the abuses of business on the Chinese workers. In this respect, many researchers have labeled the 2008 Labor Contract Law as the most significant piece of Chinese labor legislation passed in recent years. The aim of this paper is to examine the distinctive features, the historical process of the making, and the impact of the Labor Contract Law at the turn of the 21st century. In the conclusion, this paper will discuss the implications of the Labor Contract Law for meeting the challenge of labor unrest in China.

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