Workshop presentation - 中欧社会论坛 - China Europa Forum

Workshop presentation

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Globalization has seen increasing integration of markets and the development of a global economy, with inevitable consequences for labor relations. The re-allocation of global resources, opening of new markets and concomitant restructuring of industry has generated new jobs. However, unequal distribution of the economic benefits of globalized production markets has created a widening gap between rich and poor. Many are concerned that increased international competition has led to reduced bargaining power of labor and a ‘race to the bottom’ in terms of wages and employment conditions.

The current global financial crisis has added to the complexities of the globalization debate. How to coordinate labor relations and to ensure the protection of labor rights in the context of the current crisis are critical questions for government, business, trade unions and civil society. It is imperative that these actors work together to face the challenges ahead. Employment regulation, trade unions, corporate social responsibility and civil society organizations all have a major role to play in ensuring the maintenance of labor rights the face of global economic recession. Those of us charged with safeguarding the rights and interests of workers recognize that it in order to do so it is also important to ensure the growth and stability of the public and private sectors.

China and Europe have distinctive histories and cultures and will develop different approaches to moving forward through the current crisis. In China, the government has been actively promoting employment and major legislative reform to the social insurance system is in process to ensure social security. In Europe, where the welfare system is well-developed, trade unions are at the forefront of providing a strong voice for workers.

Despite their inherent differences, China and Europe need to work together, not only on the reconstruction of economic order but also, critically, on the protection of labor rights. Such collaboration requires greater dialogue and engagement. At such a moment in history, direct communication between China and Europe becomes very important. In this Workshop, the two parties will make full use of an open and multi-level forum to actively and effectively explore the theme of ‘protecting employees’.

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