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The making of a new working class? Neue Muster von ArbeiterInnenprotest in Sudchina? Pun, N. The Subsumption of Class Discourse in China. Boundary 2. The Challenge of Labour in China: strikes and the changing labour regime in global factories. Book Chapter Chan, C. New York:.

CHAN,, K. China at Work. Smith and M. Liu ed. New York. Palgrave Macmillan. Wang, T. While globalization has become the focus of attention in recent years, there is ample evidence that national and, in some cases, sub-national factors continue to play an important role in structuring relationships between employers and employees.

Thelen's work on Germany provides a good example of this phenomenon as she demonstrates that despite the pressures associated with globalization, distinctive features of German industrial relations, notably the two-tiers system of employee representation, have prevented the wholesale deregulation of the German labour market.

Indeed, Thelen has argued that the increased competitive pressures associated with globalization have encouraged German employers to renew their commitment to aspects of employee representation at the enterprise level and to industry-wide bargaining Thelen, ; Thelen and Kume, Yet there have also been significant developments in regional approaches to industrial relations, most notably in the European Union.

However, the advancement of collective bargaining at the European level has proven to be quite slow and a new system of industrial relations regulation within the EU has not yet been developed. There is also recent literature which rejects the notion that globalization creates irresistible pressures for convergence of capitalist economies on a neo-liberal model. They argue that it is possible to identify at least two institutional equilibria which resolve the coordination problems associated with a market economy.

Germany is the prime exemplar of CMEs, but other northern European countries also fit this category. The VoC approach highlights the causal significance of national level institutions in shaping national responses to international pressures. While increased competition is associated with globalization and individualization of bargaining in LMEs, this does not necessarily follow in CMEs. The VoC's focus on national level institutions helps to explain why globalization does not appear to be associated with significant declines in union density in some countries such as Australia and the US , but has not produced the same outcomes in others such as Germany or Sweden see Frege and Kelly, Among the criticisms of the VoC approach is that it does not contain enough variety and focuses only on those countries to which the model can be applied Allen, Furthermore, systems of multi-level governance such as the European Union pose significant challenges to the nationally-bounded and distinct description of institutions on which the VoC approach is based.

Deeg and Jackson argue that the increasingly international character of institutional actors, notably capital, means that the national level institutions create fewer constraints than depicted by the VoC approach. Wailes argues that it is necessary to rethink the relationship between the international and the national levels when seeking to understand current developments in industrial relations, especially in order to include the effects of a regional dimension such as the European Union. He notes that recent literature on employment relations practices in MNCs provides a concrete example of how this form of institutional incompleteness can affect national patterns of industrial relations.

This supports an earlier research study by Ferner which found that the tendency for MNCs to diffuse key employment practices across their subsidiaries reflected the extent to which MNCs and their management were embedded in the institutional context of their home countries. Wailes cites criticisms of the institutional approach in comparative capitalism to show how the concept of institutional incompleteness can be used to bring international and European-level developments into the analysis of industrial relations, while at the same time remaining attentive to the enduring and significant role played by national-level arrangements.

The complex inter-relationships between the national, regional and international dimensions of industrial relations is illustrated by the implementation of an autonomous framework agreement on telework across five European countries. A study of this framework agreement was undertaken by Larsen and Andersen in order to examine whether a new mode of European regulations was emerging.

Their study showed that national industrial relations traditions were not the primary determinant of how the tele-work agreement was implemented in different member countries. Rather, their analysis revealed that the form that the policy took, with its emphasis on voluntarism and self regulation, had a major influence on the process of implementation.

This enabled the Danish employers' association to avoid implementing the agreement while the Confederation of British Industry took the unusual step of participating in tripartite negotiations. Larsen and Andersen concluded that the way in which the autonomous agreement was developed, and the form which it took, influenced the power balance between the social actors at the various national levels.

As union membership has fallen, bargaining coverage has declined and there has been the replacement of collective labour-management relations with more individualized forms of employment contracts. Labour markets have been progressively deregulated in many economies, and the proportion of the workforce undertaking contingent forms of work on non-standard employment contracts has grown. Laws have become more restrictive in relation to collective action such as strikes, and the number of formal industrial disputes has declined.

This has meant that industrial relations which was too narrowly focused on collective bargaining and industrial conflict has become a less popular field of study, even though issues related to work and employment relations have become increasingly important to economic and social progress.

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While the regulation of the workplace and interaction between employers and unions remain key concerns to the field of industrial relations, other issues related to people at work, employment and organizations are important in bringing a broader perspective to the subject. Industrial relations needs to maintain a multidisciplinary approach to issues at work and in the employment relationship, and to connect the micro-level issues at the workplace level with macro-level issues in society and the economy.

It needs to combine its concern for the traditional social partners—unions, employers' associations and the state—with newer actors such as NGOs and community organizations which are actively concerned with issues at work and in the workplace. The expertise which industrial relations scholars and practitioners have developed in dispute resolution between unions and employers can be applied to other areas of conflict in the workplace.

Alternative methods of providing a voice and influence for employees at their place of work should be a natural province of industrial relations specialists. While the national or sub-national level will remain the focus of industrial relations in most countries, new developments at the regional and international levels will require a multi-level approach to the subject.

Globalization of the economy means that industrial relations will continue to interact with issues of international trade. International organizations, such at the ILO, WTO and World Bank have an opportunity to play an increasingly significant role, along with international employers' groups, global union federations and a growing variety of NGOs.

However, MNCs are likely to be the locus of employment for growing numbers of people and will exert considerable influence on the future of industrial relations. Although North American and European systems of industrial relations will continue to be important, the newly industrializing countries in Asia and elsewhere will develop their own approaches and institutions to regulate work and employment which reflect their own traditions and needs. However, if the field of industrial relations is to remain relevant to social and economic interests of people at work and contribute to improving both business and public policies around the world, it must maintain its long-held concern to achieve a balance between equity and efficiency in work and employment.