Debates about social movement unionism and Hong Kong labour politics come together in and article by Chris King-Chi Chan of the Department of Applied Social Sciences, City University of Hong Kong, Sophia Shuk-Ying Chan of the Department of Politics, Princeton University, and Lynn Tang of the School of Arts and Humanities, Tung Wah College, Hong Kong have authored “Reflecting on Social Movement Unionism in Hong Kong: The Case of the Dockworkers’ Strike in 2013” (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2018.1448429).
The abstract for the paper states:
By analysing the 2013 Hong Kong dockworkers’ strike, this article explores how workers, precariously situated in the world’s freest economy, fight for decent wages with the support of civil society. It is argued that the trade union movement in Hong Kong, a Special Administration Region of the People’s Republic of China, is a typical example of social movement unionism. It suggests that the rise of social movement unionism in Hong Kong was a practical strategy of social activists to support labour rights under the specific context of vulnerable structural power, weak institutional power, failed political unionism and a vibrant civil society. Social movement unionism has a “double-edged sword” effect on workers’ power: on the one hand, it has the potential to create societal power and strengthen associational power; on the other hand, it may compromise workers’ militancy and the possibility of stronger workplace bargaining power during workers’ struggle.