Agreeing on the Wage: The Contestation and Negotiation of Wage Levels in Chinese Factories
I argue that wage rates are legitimatised and challenged by workers under the influence of labour process in a factory. The labour process reflects the extent of managerial control, which lays the groundwork for the conditions for contesting the wage system, such as the degree of atomisation or solidarity of workers, comparability of wage rates, as well as the arena to articulate wage demands. These conditions affect workers’ understanding of the current wage system, motivation and action in making wage demands, and eventually wage adjustment.
Preliminary findings of a qualitative multiple case study will thus be presented. 4 Chinese factories in the electronics and automobile industries are studied. Data for this paper is mainly collected from interviews with HR managers, workers and labour NGO organisers in respective regions. They are complemented by document review and non-participant observation on the shop floor and in wage-related meetings in the factories.