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Case Study: Human Resources and International Mergers

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It is next to impossible to dispute the fact that China has grown to become the largest manufacturing center in the world today. China’s secret and perhaps its key to success is its vast army of available and compliant workers who are ready and willing to work long hours for low wages. However, perhaps not all is going as well as it seems! China’s incredible economic ascension seems to be slowing as the country faces labor problems such as those faced by the United States more than 100 years ago. Chinese workers are beginning to recognize their value and worth and are standing up for their rights.

The Chinese government has permitted wages to increase and working conditions to improve in many manufacturing facilities. It is not however, necessarily for the betterment of the workers, but because this action equates to increased spending capabilities of the higher paid workers, which in turns stimulates the economy. The Chinese government is now encouraging its workers to join the one state-controlled union in the nation – All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU). The thought here is this will provide an avenue for grievances to be aired, therefore discouraging more intense actions.

However, strikes in China are becoming more and more common. Many of the strikes to date have been focused on foreign-owned companies such as Honda. With the record of labor complaints continuing to grow, it is hard to estimate just where this may end up, not only for the workers of China, but for that nation’s economy as well.

Answer these case questions:

In what ways are unions beneficial and in what ways might they be harmful?
If you were a Chinese worker, would you risk going on strike? Why or why not?
What union advice would you give someone about to open a new factory in China

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