Labor Contract, Trade Union Membership, and Workplace Relations: A Study of Migrant Workers in Guangdong Province, China

Part of the International Perspectives on Social Policy, Administration, and Practice book series (IPSPAP, volume 1)


Based on survey data collected in Guangdong province in 2009, this chapter examines the workplace relations and satisfaction with employment conditions among migrant workers after the implementation of the 2007 Labor Contract Law (LCL). Our analysis shows that trade union membership and better understanding of the LCL helped improve migrant workers’ access to labor contracts. Trade union members were also more likely to sign medium-term contracts than short- or open-term contracts. Also, a better understanding of the LCL improved migrant workers’ satisfaction with the labor contracts they signed. However, having a labor contract also came with reduced monthly wages, and sometimes coexisted with rights violations against migrant workers. This implies that employers may have been duplicitous in setting up contracts, and that while trade unions might have generated some positives for employee benefits, these may have actually come at the cost of better monthly wages. We also found that the degree of familiarity with the LCL, rather than the presence of a trade union, played a statistically positive role in determining monthly incomes, suggesting that labor authorities need to strengthen the enforcing abilities and effective functions of trade unions.


China Guangdong province Migrant workers Labor contract Trade union Workplace relations 



The data used in this study was provided by the Center for Urban Studies at Sun Yet-Sen University, Guangzhou, China. Responsibility for this research, including any errors or omissions, remains with the authors.


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EconomicsThe University of WollongongWollongongAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Marketing and ManagementMacquarie UniversitySydneyAustralia
  3. 3.Shandong School of DevelopmentShandong UniversityJinanChina

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