April 21, 2020 in Research
Worker’s Strikes in China and United States


There are numerous strikes and other labor protests raised in different countries as the companies dismiss their workers and reduce the wages. In fact, some firms treat their employees disrespectfully and deprive them from a sense of establishment. This explains the influx of labor unions and activists who attempt to protect the rights of workers in various industries. However, the occurrence of the related labor events is attributable to the prevailing predicaments in a country. For example, the increase in strikes in China is partly due to the stock market crash and currency devaluation that occurred last year. The current paper will lay emphasis on the comparison of strikes between the United States and China. It will also integrate an SLU core value by discussing the issue within the context of the paper.

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Worker’s Strikes in China

As the economy continues to stutter, the number of strikes and worker’s protests in China have increased dramatically hence resulting into labor disputes. In some cases, the workers are dismissed as the slowing economy pushes the companies to run their business in cheaper locations, such as Vietnam. Most disputes pertain to the wage arrears, especially in the construction and manufacturing industry respectively. For example, the latest confrontation was a strike at Guangzhou as the workers in the stainless steel factory protested against the prevailing wage cuts and layoffs. The other recent incident involved Longmay Mining Group, which is one of the biggest coal companies in China. The workers in the company staged protests over unpaid salaries.

The problem stems from the fact that the workers in China lack the prerogative of forming trade unions of their choice. This impedes their ability to organize labor actions. Similarly, China has been an attractive destination for global corporations due to low wage rates and limited ability to strike. In fact, the workers in China do not only protests about low wages but also the rights to elect and control their own trade unions. In addition, the employees lack the freedom to choose their collective bargaining representatives and have no right to participate in the election of union representatives. The increase in the worker’s strikes in China can be shown in the figure below:

In China, the only trade union available is All-China Federation of Trade Union (ACFTU), which is controlled by the government. For this reason, the organization of labor actions in the country has always been risky and difficult, which compels the workers to suffer quietly. Moreover, their attempt to negotiate outside the set structures amounts to an attack of state power thus makes it illegal. In fact, even after these strikes are finished, the people leading and organizing them, are either warned or harassed. Others are attacked or detained. According to the government, the workers strike amount to existential threat which explains why the government resorts to imprisonment. The reason is that the labor protests are illegal and often treated as public security issues.

There has been also a methodical crackdown that revolves around quashing protests and dismantling labor rights organizations. In some cases, the strikes are declared illegal, while the authorities threaten the workers with fine imposition. An apt example is a case in Guangdong, where Chinese authorities detained labor activists. They were accused of endangering national security, inciting others to raise the strike as well as the disturbance of political order. The authorities also delete the websites that inform about the labor incidents. Moreover, they restrict reporting on issues pertinent to strikes, especially factories that are domestic-owned.

What makes it worse is that the government remains uninvolved in the detentions, while the police take advantage of this situation to perpetrate even harsher crackdowns. This is detrimental to the ordinary workers who are being oppressed by their employers, thus creating a wave of labor unrest. Apart from the police interventions, the government may instigate the negotiation of settlements between the workers and their employers or factory management. The negotiations are orchestrated by the officials from All-China Federation of Trade Union (ACFTU). However, most officials lack comprehensive information on the dynamics of labor organization as they only focus on maintaining their positions. Moreover, the workers consider that the union does not undertake any actions to promote worker’s interests as it creates an oppressive political climate. This only exposes the hypocrisy of China’s rule of law.

A Comparison of Worker’s Strikes between China and United States

In the United States, the worker’s strikes are not a new trend. A current example is the protest by Verizon employees who opposed the increase of offshoring jobs. The reason is that Verizon prefers to outsource work to low wage contractors in the quest of freezing pensions. The workers also strike to demand a higher pay, better contracts as well as more manageable work hours. The other protest was raised in 2015 and involved thousands of employees from the united steelworkers unions. In the United States, the rise of globalization has simplified jobs outsourcing, while the employers have become more effective in countering union’s growth. Consequently, the union membership has declined. In the recent past, the number of strikes in the United States has reduced significantly due to collective bargaining, where the union members negotiate with the employers and find a consensus on different issues. This can be shown in the figure below:

Unlike China, most protests in the United States are legal because the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) grants private sector employees the right to strike. According to Section 7 of the Act, some of the legal strikes include unfair labor practice strikes, sympathy as well as economic protests. The workers can conduct economic strikes as they seek the related concession from their employers. An example is higher wages due to an increase in cost of living. Unfair labor practices are implemented, when the employers consider that another manager is perpetrating unlawful practices, such as disciplining employees. However, unfair labor practices strikers have greater rights to reinstatement as compared to the economic strikers. Notwithstanding, all the protests in China are illegal, and the workers are subjected to hefty punishments.

In addition, the law places qualifications and limitations on the exercise of the worker’s strike because they are encapsulated in the concerted activities that are protected for employees. Moreover, the employees in the United States have the prerogative to join labor unions, which engage in collective bargaining in the quest of addressing their grievances. However, in some scenarios, the proponents of collective bargaining will determine the right of a union to engage in a strike. Similarly, their lawfulness will depend on the conduct of strikers as well as its timing. Therefore, the protesting people will not be protected by the NLRA if they participate in serious misconduct, such as attacking management representatives or similar unethical behaviors.

In the United States, the presence of labor unions plays a key role in governing the nature of employment. However, in China, the citizens lack the right to form labor unions in order to protect their rights and negotiate their employment contracts with the employers. In fact, this explains the reason of increasing the worker strikes in China. Moreover, the involved individuals are punished later in an effort to warn them not to engage in such activities in future. However, in the United States, the employees cannot be harassed or dismissed if the strike was conducted in compliance with the outlined legal specifications. In fact, it would be an unfair labor practice if the employer discharged an employee for his failure to make lawful payments towards the union.

Integration of SLU Core Value of Community

SLU core values of community can be integrated within the context of this paper. It is important to lay the emphasis on the importance of inculcating a hospitable Christian learning community that fosters a spirit of belonging and unity. In the United States, labor unions can embrace this core value in creating a socially responsible environment between the workers and employers. This can be achieved by constantly responding to the worker’s grievances and negotiating with the employers. The same method should be implicated in collective bargaining processes, while ensuring arguments are resolved amicably. This will foster a sense of unity between the involved parties and ensure peaceful coexistence between the workers and employers. Similarly, in China, All-China Federation of Trade Union (ACFTU) should take the prerogative of embracing the core value of community to foster mutual trust and respect. Moreover, it should provide the employees with a sense of belonging by intervening on prevailing discrepancies between the workers and employers. This will convince the people that their employers are concerned about their wellbeing, thus ensuring peaceful coexistence of the two parties.


The eruption of worker’s strikes and labor protests can be attributed to slow economic growth. Moreover, the factories and other businesses dismiss the workers, withhold the wages or close their businesses. However, there is a difference in the way of dealing with the worker’s strike issue in different countries. In the United States, for example, such protests are allowed only if they conform to the stipulated legal provisions. However, in China, the strikes are illegal, and the workers continue suffering quietly. The difference can be partly attributed to the presence of labor unions that negotiate with the employers on behalf of the employees. Notwithstanding, the employees in China are not given the freedom to form labor unions and elect their representatives.


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