China's EV Industry Growth Sparks Worker Unrest and Calls for Just Transition


In 2023, China's automotive industry experienced a peak in collective actions, with 21 recorded by the China Labour Bulletin (CLB), the highest since 2015. The intense competition and transition to electric vehicles (EVs) have led to worker grievances including layoffs, overdue payments, and increased workloads. Lower-tier EV companies, unable to compete with giants like Tesla and BYD, have shut down, leaving workers demanding overdue wages and severance pay. First-tier EV company employees also face wage reductions and heavier workloads. Meanwhile, traditional automakers are struggling with the EV transition, leading to job losses and pay cuts. German and US unions offer valuable lessons in just transition initiatives, emphasizing the need for fair and inclusive economic greening, reskilling programs, and unionizing to protect workers' rights. As China's auto industry evolves, these international experiences could guide Chinese unions in addressing the impacts of the EV transition on workers.

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