Labor contract, trade union membership, and workplace relations: a study of migrant workers in Guangdong province, China

Zhiming Cheng, Haining Wang, Yuanyuan Chen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


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.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSocial issues in China
Subtitle of host publicationgender, ethnicity, labor, and the environment
EditorsZhidong Hao, Sheying Chen
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherSpringer, Springer Nature
Number of pages24
ISBN (Print)9781461422242
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Publication series

NameInternational perspectives on social policy, administration, and practice


  • China
  • Guangdong province
  • Migrant workers
  • Labor contract
  • Trade union
  • Workplace relations


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