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Alice Neffe
Faculty of Law
P.O. Box 4
FI-00014 University of Helsinki
Visiting address: Yliopistonkatu 3, P456
+358 (0)2941 22858; +358 (0)503199620




Although China is not new to labour law – it was among the founders of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in 1919 – labour conditions in China today are the subject of concern to observers both inside China and in the international community. In response, China has devoted much attention recently to reforming its labour law system, a process driven by a political reorientation towards labour protection in the context of economic globalization. However, labour disputes and labour unrest continue to proliferate. Using as its starting point an international research seminar held at Helsinki University in January 2013, this volume gathers a remarkable array of academic perspectives on China and its legal system by scholars from China, the United States, and Europe into a stimulating and unique combination of commentary and analysis of the challenges relating to implementation of fundamental labour rights as spelled out in the landmark 1998 ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work in the Chinese setting. Importantly, the analysis fully takes into account action in relation to the promotion of labour rights by not only the Chinese government but local governmental authorities, trade unions, enterprises, and other actors. Each author focuses on a different aspect of how these fundamental labour rights operate in the Chinese legal environment and the kinds of obstacles met in their protection. Among the issues that arise are the following:

  • gaps between ILO conventions and Chinese national laws occurring in the transformation of international obligations into domestic laws;
  • how parties to a labour dispute cases may invoke ILO conventions before courts or administrative authorities;
  • market obstacles caused by linking trade with observance of labour standards;
  • the trade union rights framework in China;
  • bottom-up pressures from workers’ collective action;
  • conflicts between Chinese state-owned enterprises and their employees;
  • complications in informal employment labour relations;
  • the growing divide between statute law and legal practice;
  • implementation of the anti-discrimination law;
  • discrimination due to China’s household registration system; and
  • corporate social responsibility.

Many of the challenges relating to implementation of fundamental labour rights discussed in this volume can be considered common to many countries. The book offers new research questions and a wider scope of analysis, and also provides new tools for discussion regarding the promotion of fundamental labour rights. In that sense, this volume relates not only to research on labour issues in China but also to global research concerned with an increasingly pressing challenge of our time. For these reasons, it will be of tremendous value to academics in labour law, trade law and comparative law, and greatly useful to practitioners in these fields.

The publication is available to purchase on the publisher website.