By Byoung-Hoon Lee, Ng Sek-Hong, and Russell D. Lansbury


“An immense contribution to our understanding of the labour movement and trade unions in the Asia-Pacific region … the concluding chapter brilliantly sums up the analysis of the thirteen countries”.

J. S. Sodhi in The Indian Journal of Industrial Relations

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.


About the Editors

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.