Abstract: China has launched a comprehensive low‐carbon transition strategy at the same time as the concept of just transition is receiving extensive international attention from the academic community. A just transition needs to embrace the interests of workers in the new energy industry as well as those of miners and others facing job losses in traditional industries. Accordingly, this article focuses on how programmers at a new energy vehicle company in Shanghai negotiate wages with their employers. Employers trying to curtail the salaries of programmers find fault with their biographies, qualifications, and experiences to undermine their confidence and create an incentive‐driven competitive work environment. Programmers, in turn, try to improve their bargaining power by demonstrating their professional competence, job hopping, and informally investigating conditions at employing enterprises to take advantage of the competitive relationship between them. The interests of programmers in China’s new energy vehicle industry are found to differ from those of Chinese state‐owned enterprise workers and migrant workers. Although individual negotiations can improve the wage levels of specific programmers in the short run, they are not conducive to the emergence of labor solidarity. Moreover, they exacerbate income inequality among workers and fail to bring justice to workers in the new energy industry.
Keywords: China; job hopping; just transition; labor relations; new energy vehicle industry; wage negotiations