Trade Unions and Labour Movements in the Asia-Pacific Region  book cover
1st Edition

Trade Unions and Labour Movements in the Asia-Pacific Region

ISBN 9780367190491
Published October 2, 2019 by Routledge
320 Pages

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Book Description

Recent developments in the world economy, including deindustrialisation and the digital revolution, have led to an increasingly individualistic relationship between workers and employers, which in turn has weakened labour movements and worker representation. However, this process is not universal, including in some countries of Asia, where trade unions are closely aligned with the interests of the dominant political party and the state. This book considers the many challenges facing trade unions and worker representation in a wide range of Asian countries. For each country, full background is given on how trade unions and other forms of worker representation have arisen. Key questions then considered include the challenges facing trade unions and worker representation in each country, the extent to which these are a result of global or local developments and the actions being taken by trade unions and worker representative bodies to cope with the challenges.


This book is dedicated to the memory of Professor Keith Thurley, London School of Economics.

Table of Contents


  1. Refining Varieties of Unions and Labour Movements in the Asia-Pacific Region
  2. Perspectives on Asian Unionism as a Regional Pattern

  4. Australian Unions: Crisis, Strategy, Survival
  5. Unions and Alternative Forms of Worker Representation in China in an Era of Privatisation and Globalisation
  6. Compatibles or Incompatibles: Hong Kong Unions as One Brand of ‘Asian Unionism’
  7. Trade Unions and Globalising India: Towards a More Inclusive Workers’ Movement?
  8. Bucking the Trend: Union Renewal in Democratic Indonesia
  9. Changes in the Labour Market and Employment Relationships in Japan
  10. Malaysian Trade Unions in the Twenty-first Century: Failed Revitalisation in a Market Economy.
  11. Worker Representation in a Segmented and Globalized Philippine Economy
  12. From Worker Representation to Worker Empowerment: The Case of Singapore
  13. Labour Unions and Worker Representation in South Korea
  14. Still Trapped between the State and Management: Unions and Worker Representation in Taiwan
  15. Unions and Labour Representation in Thailand: Weakness Continued
  16. The Reform of Vietnam Trade Union and the Government’s Role Since Doi moi

  18. Reflections on Union Movements and Worker Representation in the Asia-Pacific Region

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Byoung-Hoon Lee is a professor at the Department of Sociology, Chung-Ang

University. He received his Ph.D. at the Industrial and Labour Relations

School, Cornell University. He previously worked as a research fellow at

the Korea Labour Institute. He undertook presidential positions in various

organisations, such as Korea Labour & Employment Relations Association,

Labour Administration Reform Commission and Fair Labour Commission

of People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy. At present, he is the

chairman of Public Workers Solidarity Foundation. He was a co-editor of

a special volume of Journal of Industrial Relations concerning Varieties of

Labour Movements in the Asia-Pacific region. He is recently working on labour

and worker solidarity, precarious workers and labour market segmentation,

informality of employment relations, the impact of digital revolution

on working life and labour history in Korea.

Sek-Hong Ng graduated from the University of Hong Kong and undertook

postgraduate studies in industrial sociology and industrial relations at the

London School of Economics and Political Sciences, where he completed

his doctoral thesis under the supervision of Professor Keith Thurley. He

returned to Hong Kong and joined the University of Hong Kong in the Department

of Management Studies, later the School of Business. He is currently

an honorary professor with the Faculty of Business and Economics

at the University of Hong Kong. He writes in the areas of employment and

labour relations, trade unions and labour law. He is currently working on

the study of labour law in the People’s Republic of China as well as an occupational

study on workers’ expectations and alienation in Hong Kong.

Russell D. Lansbury is Emeritus Professor of Employment Relations at the

University of Sydney Business School where he was also associate dean (research)

and a head of department. He gained a PhD in Industrial Relations

from the London School of Economics and has been awarded honorary

doctorates by Lulea Technical University in Sweden and Macquarie University

in Australia. He was a senior fulbright fellow at MIT and Harvard

University as well as a visiting fellow at the Swedish National Institute for

Worklife Research. He has been a Shaw Foundation Visiting Professor at

Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. He is a joint editor of International

and Comparative Employment Relations (Sage Books) now in its

sixth edition. His research has focused on comparative employment relations

in various industry sectors including auto manufacturing, banking

and mining.


"Using a systematic comparative analytic framework, this book highlights the variation in labour movements in 13 Asian countries. The work lays bare the shortcomings of theories to adequately explain labour movements in this region. A must read for labour scholars!"

Sarosh Kuruvilla: Professor of Industrial Relations, Cornell University, USA, and Visiting Professor at the London School of Economics, UK.

"This book highlights ‘varieties’ of unions and labour movements in response to challenges in Asia, shaping the ways in which workers are organized, with fresh evidence and new theoretical perspectives. This is a must for all scholars of modern industrial relations"

Dr Chang-Hee Lee, International Labour Organisation (ILO), Country Director for Vietnam

"This book provides a rich source of analysis of contemporary challenges and evolving perspectives on trade unions and labour movements in Asia. It represents an important and innovative contribution to the field of comparative industrial relations."

Mia Ronnmar, Professor and Dean of Law at the University of Lund, Sweden, and President of the International Labour and Employment Relations Association (ILERA)

"The Asia-Pacific region is quite diverse in the make-up of its labour laws and labour institutions, despite geographical proximity. This book is essential reading for anyone interested in the near-term future of capitalism in the fastest growing region of the world."

Anil Verma, Professor of Management and former Director of the Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources. University of Toronto, Canada.

"It is a rare edited volume that combines empirical sweep, methodological rigor and theoretical insight. This volume does that in ways that make it necessary reading for all those interested in comparative industrial relations and comparative political economy."

Chris Howell, James Monroe Professor of Politics, Oberlin College, USA

"This book clearly shows that unions in emerging Asian economies create unique patterns of unionism distinct from Euro-American models. This book makes an important contribution to formulating a new theoretical framework that acknowledges these distinctive features."

Dong-One Kim, Professor of Employment Relations at Korea University, South Korea

"This book provides detailed information about unions and their activities in Asia and Pacific countries using a systematic approach. It is essential reading for practitioners and scholars in order to obtain a dynamic picture of the contemporary and future developments in Asia".

Michio Nitta, Emeritus Professor, Institute of Social Sciences, University of Tokyo, Japan.

"Using a consistent framework, this book examines labor movements in thirteen Asia-Pacific countries. It provides great detail on labor market structures, labor politics and union strategies. It is a ‘must read’ for employment relations scholars across the globe".

Peter Berg, Professor of Employment Relatios, Michigan State University, USA