Essays on The Role of Trade Unions in Raising Workers Welfare and Industrial Upgrading - Japan and China Case Study

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The paper "The Role of Trade Unions in Raising Workers Welfare and Industrial Upgrading - Japan and China " is an outstanding example of a business case study.   Trade unions all over the world have been credited with the noble task of improving the welfare of workers while at the same time facilitating for industrial upgrading. The upgrading is achieved as workers quest for better working conditions is realised and consequently, this trickles towards the upgrading of the industrial environment. The Japanese and Chinese industrial environment and actions are worth noting in the developed and developing world respectively.

Japan being among the developed countries and China presenting a fast-growing economy with a high workforce presents better contexts for the examination of the roles of trade unions in enhancing the welfare of workers and industrial upgrading. This essay compares and contrasts the role played by trade unions in the two countries to enhance working conditions. In context, the main approach in this analysis looks into the extent of the success achieved by trade unions in raising workers welfare as well as facilitating industrial upgrading in Japan and China. From the 1950s, trade unions in China were observed to be integrated within the constraints of the centralised planned economy and consequently ensured they enhanced production and became responsible in the distribution of social benefits and services to the workers (Blanchflower and Bryson, 2004).

The Japanese trade unions can be praised for their effective bargaining units to achieve better wages with respect to being mostly enterprise unions whose membership consisted of workers of a given company (Giorgio, 1992). Nevertheless, the struggle of the unions in the countries have not been without challenges and at times the wage negotiations appearing obsolete and labour relations being characterised by employment for all state wage determinations.

These struggles have not just been documented for historical purposes but clearly show the role played by trade unions in ensuring workers gain better working conditions and get better pay. Consequently, the union activities affect the industrial environment by promoting harmony and understanding as far as relations with employers are concerns while mostly ensuring working facilities are improved (Santoro, 2009). The Japanese trade unions are enterprise based representing firms to which they relate keeping in mind that Japan is an advanced industrialised nation (Tachibanaki and Noda, 2000).

On the other hand, the Chinese unions are not really strong and have grown up in recent years and emerging with being the highest memberships globally (Qiao, 2010). This is favoured by the large workforce that characterises China as a result of its being the most populated nation in the world. The Japanese union organisation has been termed nearly unique globally. It is characterised as pivotal based on enterprises and not industries or crafts like most other nations (Ohtani, 2000).

The unions cater for workers limited to companies at lower levels and on the upper levels the enterprise unions conglomerate joining industrial federations which act as constituents of nation-wide political bodies like the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (RENGO). This gives the Japanese unionism a characteristic three-tier system (Kawakami, et al. , 2004). The bottom level organised into enterprise unions in charge of negotiating factory issues like wage rates, job promotions, workplace safety, redundancies, transfers and retirements issues.

This clearly shows the greater role played by enterprise unions to ensure the welfare of workers is improved. However, despite the difference that exists in the various enterprise unions, there are a number of aspects that are similar. These attributes consist of membership restricted only to regular workers, blue and white-collar employees enjoying the right to be in the same union, the union officers are regular employees for a given company (Kawakami and Kogi, 2001).


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