Temporary Labor and Labor Conflicts in the Joint Ventures of VW and Toyota in China

Publication Type:

Conference Paper


Miao Tian


Gerpisa colloquium, Paris (2019)


employment dualism, labor protest, Labor Relations, Production System, temporary labor


Temporary Work and Labor Conflicts in the Joint Ventures of VW and Toyota in China

China`s high-standard labor protection legislation and loose enforcement in practice had provoked enormous labor protests as the capitalist economy expanded fast. The labor relation in the automotive assembly is often characterized as hegemonic with higher wages and better working conditions. The previous research indicated that employees in the automotive assembly tend to use institutionalized and rationalized labor conflict resolution that seldom involving collective mobilization. Yet, this situation is changing when the Chinese automotive market declined for the first time after 10 years of high-speed growth. One of the biggest labor challenges is seen in the employment dualism that is prevalent in China`s automobile industry. While the companies need urgently to lower the labor cost and maximize labor flexibility, the Chinese labor contract law sets a relatively high standard to limit the use of temporary labor. At the meantime, Chinese workers in different regions show an increasing willingness to act for their rights and interests.

Under this background, this paper will compare the different patterns of employment dualism and human resource management strategies in the two joint-ventures of Toyota and VW. How do the two joint-ventures integrate the temporary labor into their production systems? How the using of temporary labor are connected with the rationalization of the production in each company confronting the market degradation in recent years. What human resources policies and trade union policies have been installed to resolve the problems involved? This paper will also discuss how the different patterns of employment dualism and roles of trade union have shaped the labor segmentation in the workplaces and caused divergent consequences in labor conflicts. VW`s joint venture encountered a big labor protest from the temporary workers since 2017 and is still disturbed with labor disputes, while Toyota`s joint venture has maintained peaceful labor relations. Both the local socio-political conditions and the company`s specific production system have played an important role in shaping the two joint ventures` employment practice in temporary labor. The in-depth case studies on the labor relations and labor protest inside the automotive joint ventures may help to make useful implications for the development of labor relations in the automotive industry in China.

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