Jason Ho, Manager, Advisory Services & CTI
In 2012, the number of migrant workers in China climbed to 250 million, according to the National Bureau of Statistics of China. Newly migrated workers account for 58 percent of this statistic. In Guangdong, the manufacturing hub of China, the population of migrant workers is as high as 75 percent. While we know that urban-rural migration will continue, BSR research indicates that China will face severe labor shortages for both skilled and low-skilled workers due to the decrease in the overall labor pool, the rise of economic development, and an aging population. In addition, increasing expectations by the new generation of workers on career opportunities, financial security, and social inclusion are reshaping labor relations and social dialogue in China. The next generation of employees will also need a next generation of employers.
Over the past eight years, BSR’s China Training Institute has been working with multiple stakeholders, including our member companies, supplier factories, workers, government, and civil society, to build sustainable workplaces along the supply chain. These programs have successfully helped factories engage with workers on canteen management, foster worker committees, and improve labor and management communications.
Key lessons from our work with factories and workers reveal that companies with long-term vision and ownership need to:
As China’s labor context is changing, forward-thinking employers are quickly upgrading their approach to managing the workplace—one that engages workers to understand employee needs. Some employers are even including workers in the management processes to foster a longer-term, more harmonious, and participatory workplace. We have arrived at the Chinese workplace 2.0.
KEYWORDS: Human Rights, Labor Migration, China, workers