Sunday, January 7, 2018

Taiwan Politicians that Give Lip Service to Workers’ Rights

      I hesitate to write an article about the Taiwanese politicians that give lip service to raising the standard of workers’ rights. The party on hunger strike in the rain want to exploit the goodwill of Sunflower movement remnants. They are staging an event outside the presidential office building. It looks good for them to be sitting under a makeshift tent in the rain, but it is all showmanship.
     Since the party in power used the youth movement to take control of the legislature in the last national elections, they only need lip service passing laws that mask the real issue - raising the minimum wage to a living wage. Promote laws already on the books safeguarding workers organizing unions protecting them from revenge by bosses. The labor laws here and in the U.S. are similar except that in Taiwan only a workplace with over 30 employees can unionize.
      Instead of sitting out in the rain complaining about laws they ignored passing last year, this political party could be going around Taiwan promoting and explaining the labor laws on the books long before the party they criticize took over the legislature. They could be helping interested workers organize clandestine grass root unions, to build a base for eventual government recognized unions. Since they are not, let them starve, die of pneumonia, or  ignore them better still for all their useless shams while helpless workers suffer slave conditions in Taiwan.
      Well, the police chased them away today; two former professors, a shoe-tosser, and a death metal musician, all turned politicians. They were saved from pneumonia and starvation so they should be thankful, but they won't be. Even President Tsai Ying-Wen, like a good mama, asked them to leave. So they slinked away, will tell their constituents they had victory, put it on their resume, and go on pretending they give a shit about working people in Taiwan. Where is Taiwan's Preacher Casy? Not in this bunch. 
             I woke up after an hour or so of sleep and went into the tea room to complete CD 16 and 17 of The Grapes of Wrath. It’s such a powerful condemnation of American capitalism and unbridled greed. We are part of one big soul, not individual souls, says Tom Joad to Ma before he has to leave the family after he killed the man who killed Preacher Casy. After seeing those egotistical clowns from the New Power Party on TV “apologize” publically for not being able to do anything to help workers after being removed from their three-day hunger strike, I told my wife how I felt personally insulted as I had directly communicated with two that ignored my pleas to unionize. It may not be my fight since I’d been marginalized long before I retired, but I can’t help but shake my head in disgust about the obstructionists that do the bidding for the ruling class with their individual “souls.”

Sunday, December 31, 2017

A Year Since Trump Was Elected President

Some people said Trump's win would be harmful to the environment and embolden the myriad haters and racists all across America. I said "An eye for an eye" would do the trick; "direct action" would get satisfaction. Unless the FBI/CIA wanted Trump to start a civil war, they would tell him to shut up; the people united could never be defeated. The fascists would lose that war, too. 

A year later, we see that every stupid uninformed thing Trump said was eaten up by the media as the inevitable looting of social program went unabated by the Senate and Congress. The people weren't united and were defeated. 

Some said there would be grave peril from climate change. Trump, like Obama and Clinton, didn't stop it.  Capitalism marched on, armed to the teeth, threatening  nations that didn't agree; imperialist incursion and genocide all over the world.

Sanders remained a Democrat and refused to go independent. He was a distraction, a politician. The Democratic Party needed to be bold and instead sabotaged Sanders, the only ray of hope for  people like you and me.

WW III was averted by  Clinton's losing. She was a clandestine  loose canon, more than bug-mouth Trump. The "not-working" class felt it in their empty gut and believed in Trump foolishly. But socialism is the answer, not anti-union and pro-Wall Street. Sanders was the coward. Ignore his Democratic Party rhetoric. Grass-root activism is the answer.

"If Trump is the price we have to pay to defeat Clintonian neo-liberalism – so be it." — Mumia Abu-Jamal

Trump is nothing new. R. Dunbar-Ortiz in her excellent book An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States wrote: "It's not that Andrew Jackson had a 'dark side,' as his apologists rationalize and which all human beings have,but rather that Jackson 'was' the Dark Knight in the formation of the United States as a colonialist, imperialist democracy, a dynamic formation that constitutes the core of U.S. patriotism. The most revered presidents -including Clinton and Obama [add Trump]- have each advanced populist imperialism while gradually increasing inclusion of other groups beyond the core of descendants of old settlers in the ruling mythology."  

The infrastructure in America has fallen apart; transportation is backward, full-time jobs with benefits is scarce, poverty level is 60%, 60,000 middle-aged, despondent Americans died from drug overdoses. Schools are underfunded and prisons are for profit.

The stock market had a great 2017. Sweatshop jobs from Amazon to Foxconn moved back in to make the unemployment rate seem low. Tax were cut where they shouldn't have been and the military in 175 countries got funded; the U.S. infrastructure got under-funded and sacred land can now be looted. U.S. workers have not benefited at all as Trump said they would. 

Join a grass root organization;  go with them on marches. Organize within your community and workplace. Nothing will help workers but organizing together. 

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Thousands protest labor amendments

Thousands protest labor amendments

POOR CONDITIONS:Employers are likely to force their employees to sign agreements saying they agree with longer work hours, a union member said

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

Police and labor groups protesting proposed amendments to the Labor Standards Act yesterday scuffle as protesters continue to block the road outside the Executive Yuan in Taipei, despite the organizers dismissing the rally earlier in the evening.

Photo: Huang Yao-cheng, Taipei Times

Thousands of people yesterday marched from the headquarters of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to the Executive Yuan in Taipei, urging the Cabinet to withdraw its draft amendment to the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法).
At noon, protesters gathered in front of the headquarters and started to march toward the Legislative Yuan at about 3pm.
One of the organizers, the Taiwan Railway Union, estimated a turnout of more than 10,000 people in the afternoon.
Several scuffles broke out between protesters and police when police tried to narrow down the demonstration area at the intersection between the Zhongshan N Road and Zhongxiao E Road.
Instead of continuing their march along Zhongxiao W Road, the organizers urged protesters to stage a sit-in at the intersection and wait for the Cabinet to respond to their appeal, but they received no response and dismissed the demonstration at 6pm.
Despite the dismissal, some protesters were still occupying the intersection as of press time last night.
Prior to the dismissal, some protesters tried to break through a police blockade set up in front of the Executive Yuan complex.
One member of the Social Democratic Party, surnamed Lu (呂), was forcibly removed from the scene by police, with his left ear allegedly cut on the wired barricades.
Since the Cabinet announced the draft amendment on Nov. 9, many labor rights groups have been protesting against what they said is the most retrogressive amendment to the act, which was pushed to a second reading by DPP lawmakers on Dec. 4.
Anticipating the demonstration yesterday, Cabinet spokesperson Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) and Minister of Labor Lin Mei-chu (林美珠) tried to clarify what they called a “misunderstanding” about the draft amendment at a news conference on Thursday.
In the Cabinet’s draft, Article 34 proposes that the interval between two work shifts can be reduced from 11 hours to no less than eight hours if an employer obtains approval from its workers’ union.
Most people oppose the article because they do not understand its two premises: It only applies to those who have to work in shifts, and people are not allowed to work more than 12 consecutive hours, Hsu said.
The work schedule of employees can be changed once a week at most, but the restriction becomes irrelevant when employers and employees reach an agreement, according to the draft.
Some lawmakers have tendered motions that propose businesses should obtain the ministry’s approval before they are allowed to shorten workers’ rest intervals, Lin said, adding that the ministry thinks the proposal is feasible and would include it in the final draft.
No one misunderstood the articles, at least the Taipei City Government did not, Taipei Department of Labor Commissioner Lai Hsiang-lin (賴香伶) said yesterday when asked to comment on Hsu’s explanation.
Many hospital management teams, due to staff shortages, are likely to change workers’ schedules almost every day, which is a fact that the Cabinet fails to understand, Lai said, adding that it should encourage businesses to hire more workers instead of easing regulations.
The ministry should set up a registration system and ask businesses adopting shifts to fully reveal their schedule information, she said.
If businesses are to lengthen employees’ working hours, they should obtain approval from the ministry, which could be helpful to prevent employers from abusing the loosened regulation, she added.
Employers are likely to force workers to sign agreements that say that they agree with the lengthened work schedules, Taiwan Higher Education Union department director Lin Po-yi (林柏儀) said.
People who have to work in shifts, such as guards, nurses and drivers in the logistics industry, are relatively powerless in society, Lin Po-yi said, adding that the draft amendment would worsen their already poor working conditions.
The DPP has forsaken the public, who cannot but take to the streets to defend its values, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chiang Wan-an (蔣萬安) said.
Asked if the KMT has any strategies to boycott the draft amendment in the extraordinary legislative session next month, Chiang said that party members are discussing plans, but cannot reveal them at the moment.
During a visit to Tainan yesterday, Premier William Lai (賴清德) said he would ask the Ministry of Labor to collect the appeals of protesters, but no further response could be solicited from the Cabinet as of press time last night.

In Taiwan, Capitalism is Not Funny


People in Taiwan are surprised how easily politicians and business people are made fun of in American media; it rarely happens here. Baby Bush joked about  the size of a shoe thrown at him; size 10. Ha-ha! Trump is a hilarious fool on late night TV talk shows. Wow! What a funny place.
     What people in Taiwan and America don't understand is that making comedy of serious subjects is what acclimates Americans to accept any misconduct with a grain of salt; it made it possible for a foul-mouthed empty-headed bigot like Donald Trump to become president or for a self-absorbed neo-liberal militarist like Hilary Clinton to almost win.
      It is time to stop neutralizing every serious offense sell-able in media, though closing the stable door after the horse has bolted. Laugh at politicians and we're all jackasses; Hee-haw!!! 
     This is funny: A friend in the States shared a post on Facebook from an ex-pat CIA wannabes' blog in Taiwan. It was about how workers are getting screwed by the new DPP labor law; like he cares. These ex-pats are not reputable on labor issues; they have removed from their Facebook group posts I wrote supporting workers rights, but ever since one was called "Taiwan's Shock Jock" by the DPP supporting Taipei Times newspaper,  he has turned against them. I asked him once to join me in starting an IWW branch here; he wasn't interested; those were his true colors
   China and Taiwan must be kept apart, say the capitalist media; that isn't funny. They mock China for allowing capitalism to flourish and create a bourgeois class. Ha-ha! How funny! The story of the backtracking of socialist states like China is due to the infantile nature of Capitalism to joke about serious drawbacks in its system pandering to greed. Only when the remnants of socialist governments learns to be funny to win at the capitalist’s game will they stop further erosion of their revolutionary advances; orthodox socialism is not funny. China is slowly coming back into its socialist foundation; abet a two-tier task, funny and serious. America was built on greed of capitalism; anything goes, but modern China was built on cooperative socialism that has had to learn to assimilate humor, abet not of politicians. China is returning  to socialism with a funny sidekick, but not now; not while capitalism  is still  temptingly funny.
     Recent Taiwanese legislative motion to remove all tributes to Chiang Kai-shek, the former Kuomintang leader and dictator, was posted and applauded by one Taiwan CIA wannabe. It is funny to remove them. Ha-ha; join the frenzy. But like removing statues of Confederate leaders in America, it is a lost opportunity to teach the youth about past tyranny. In fact, The State Department was alarmed and sent an AIT  envoy to voice disapproval; they didn't want the DPP  distancing itself from America's darling of "Free China". It would bring Taiwan closer to a PRC that also despises the fascist dictator who fought against communism instead of Japanese imperialists. This is not a laughing matter.
       Barking up the wrong tree was China with the KMT before realizing President Ma Ying-Jyou was a liability. They've since backed off. All China really wants is the last vestige of colonialism off their cultural geography.
       Capitalism is not funny, especially when referendum laws are being changed that could backfire on the DPP when the Taiwanese realize they've always been independent from China; that it is America that oppresses them and keeps them from being an independent nation or joining their cultural brethren in China.
     Yes, I am upset that there is not one other person in Taiwan, local or ex-pat, that sees the solution for low wages and exploitation as organizing unions and showing solidarity. The ex-pat CIA wannabes and excuse-mongers here point out how I could get deported for participating in such organizing and refuse to join with me; singly none. I am reduced to writing shaming articles, like this one, or being cynical to Facebook netizens offering solutions that are obsolete; a political party changes nothing, I tell them. A capitalist government has never protected workers rights’ and a socialist government can’t do as much as they should because the wolf is at the door. 

Taiwan History -Ex-president in custody

Taiwan's ex-president in custody

Wed 11/12/2008, 4:59 P

Taiwan's ex-president in custody

Taiwan's ex-President Chen Shui-bian, who faces corruption allegations, has been formally taken into custody. Mr Chen, an independence activist and staunch critic of China, was taken to jail after his detention was approved by a court overnight.It came at the end of a dramatic 24 hours, during which police led a defiant Mr Chen away in handcuffs.Mr Chen, who stepped down in May, denies all the graft charges and claims they are politically motivated.He has been taken to Tucheng prison in the suburbs of the capital, Taipei. He can now be held for up to four months, despite not yet having formally been charged.
Police have reportedly tightened security around the jail amid threats from his supporters.

Muscle tear
The BBC's Cindy Sui in Taipei says the authorities want to avoid the type of demonstrations seen last week during a landmark visit by a high-ranking Chinese Communist official to Taiwan.Mr Chen and his supporters - who see closer ties to Beijing as a threat to Taiwan's sovereignty - opposed that visit.Court proceedings had to be suspended on Tuesday night, when Mr Chen said he needed hospital treatment after being pushed outside the court building.He was returned to court for an overnight sitting after doctors found he had only a minor muscle tear. Mr Chen is accused of money laundering and illegally using a special presidential fund.But the outspoken nationalist accuses the new administration of persecuting him "as a sacrifice to appease China". Mr Chen is an ardent supporter of Taiwanese independence, and a trenchant critic of President Ma Ying-jeou's Kuomintang (KMT) administration, which he accuses of pandering to China. But China has termed accusations that his detention is a plot between Beijing and President Ma's administration "pure fabrication". President Ma has also denied intervening in the case.

Opposition damaged?
Mr Chen and his family have been mired in corruption allegations since 2006, when his son-in-law was charged with insider trading on the stock market and then jailed for seven years.The charges have damaged the reputation of the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), observers say, which may now face a rough ride in next year's local elections.Taiwan has been ruled separately since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949.The defeated Kuomintang retreated to Taiwan to create a self-governing entity. But Beijing sees the island as a breakaway province which should be reunified with the mainland, by force if necessary. 

Saturday, November 18, 2017

How the labor law changes screw workers

How the labor law changes screw workers

Aboriginal performers at a resort

Kassy Cho on Twitter explains:
Currently, Taiwanese workers are entitled to 1 fixed day off and 1 flexible day off per week. If you work on your flexible day off, it’s considered overtime, and you should be paid in increments of 4 hours. i.e. 1–4 hours counts as 4 hours, 4-8 hours counts as 8 hours and so on

Employees are legally entitled to 7 holiday days a year in their first 2 years at the company, increasing to 10 days for their 3rd and 4th years, and 14 days after 5 years and so on, with a max of 30 holiday days after working at a company for 25 years

I should also preface this with: Taiwanese people are some of the most overworked people out there, with many getting off work any time from 10pm to past midnight and usually not paid for any overtime at all

Holidays are rare, and employers have the power to reject holiday requests and often do. I know because I have worked in Taiwan and experienced this myself. Anyway, here are the proposed reforms and what they mean:

Overtime pay will no longer be rounded up to four hour increments and employees will only receive pay for the exact number of hours they have worked.

Comp days are now valid for two years. Employees will no longer be able to take or get paid for any comp days they didn’t take at the end of the year but may have to wait another year before they can take the days or get paid for them

The minimum time employees have off between shifts will be shortened from 11 hours to 8 hours, meaning if you get off at 6pm, you could theoretically be called into work at 2am and have to go.

The maximum number of days employees can work in a row before a day off will be doubled from 6 days, meaning people could work 12 days straight before getting a day off.

The maximum hours a person can work a week will also be increased from 46 hours to 54 hours.

Also worth noting the fact that 7 public holidays were already cancelled with the launch of this act

All of this goes to say, employees are very concerned that these reforms could mean longer shifts and less rest in a culture that already promotes and actively encourages overwork
She ends by linking to this piece from The Reporter that explains everything (Chinese).

The massive piles of homework and the cram schools exist for a couple of reasons. One is politics: students can't develop interests outside school or engage in political activity if they are loaded down with homework and thirty hours of class each week.

But the other is to habituate students to their future work lives in which their time will be controlled by the one with authority over their lives -- first the school, then their boss. Taiwan culture powerfully instills the idea that hard work will pay off and authority should not be challenged. These values make Taiwanese ideal workers for a slave-driving employer class.

The real white privilege in Taiwan isn't the ability of white males to get attention from local women (wildly exaggerated) or easily getting jobs as cram school clowns/teachers. It is being exempt from this hellish system of time control.

The DPP has screwed labor again, after courting it before the election. Unfortunately there is no third party labor can turn to, the NPP being too small and the KMT being the party of big business. In 2018 I expect that many in the working class will sit home while others will switch parties to punish the DPP. It appears that the DPP idea of "social justice" is limited to those areas where social justice touches on KMT power.

Recall that the miracle economy was built on the premise of cheap, well-controlled labor. This enabled families to open factories. Workers would learn skills and go off to open factories on their own, supported by networks of similar factories operating in clusters: the famous "Shoes Nest" in Taichung, the bike industry cluster around Dajia, the mold and die cluster in Sanchong, the textile cluster near Yuanlin and Hemei in Changhua, the furniture cluster in Kaohsiung (see Hsieh's Boss Island for a description of how workers spun off bosses in the old system). That system was also premised on links to the US economy via exchange students, emigrants, and political exiles.

The US middle class has been destroyed, and the workers can no longer accumulate the social and financial capital to open their own tiny factories with so many firms moved to China, but the Taiwanese family run factory business lives on, a 1970s zombie in a 21st century world. The only way it can survive is by exploitation: exploiting workers by overworking and underpaying them, exploiting the environment by ignoring regulations, and exploiting females.

The move to China enabled Taiwanese family firms to continue to survive in the global market without investing in upgrading production technology and management. Now such firms are leaving China looking for marginalized labor forces elsewhere in places like Indonesia and Burma. But to remain "competitive" Taiwan firms are rolling back the pittance of labor rights in Taiwan. This will enable bosses to continue to exploit labor in lieu of investment in upgrading productivity.

Indeed, Premier William Lai's recent call for a $30,000 minimum salary was quickly "clarified" to include only large firms. It was just a nod of the head and polite meaningless words...

The productivity-wage gap in Taiwan is huge, and for bosses, seductive. Taiwan labor is among the cheapest in developing countries, relative to its productivity. Yet labor exploitation can only lead to the slow fossilization of Taiwan firm productivity and production techniques, leaving Taiwan further behind the global production curve, while talented and capable Taiwanese look elsewhere to sell their labor. "Reforms" like this hurt the island by feeding the brain drain while convincing small and medium sized firm owners that they can go on indefinitely substituting labor for capital in the productivity race...

Perhaps the bosses are hoping that they can exploit workers until robots become widely available, capable, and cheap, but I doubt they are that forward looking. Rather, this law is simply the visceral response to labor: exploit labor more, a subset of the Great Answer to all social "problems" in Taiwan society: more contro

Friday, October 27, 2017

Truth about 9/11 likely would take down the USA as a global empire leading to civil war

The truth about the September 11, 2001 terror attacks would not only destabilize the American political system but it would also take down the US as a global empire, an American scholar says.

download (10)
Dr. Kevin Barrett, a founding member of the Scientific Panel for the Investigation of 9/11, made the remarks in an interview with Press TV on Tuesday, while commenting on the ongoing feud between Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Jeb Bush over the 9/11 attacks.
On Friday, Trump blamed former US President George W. Bush for the September 11, 2001 attacks. On Sunday, Trump said that if he had been president in 2001, his immigration policy would have kept al-Qaeda terrorists from attacking the US.
In response, Bush said his brother, George W. Bush, is not responsible for the 9/11 attacks. “Look, my brother responded to a crisis, and he did it as you would hope a president would do.”
“He united the country,” Bush told CNN. “He organized our country, and he kept us safe. And there’s no denying that. The great majority of Americans believe that.”
Bush deserves blame for 9/11
Dr. Barrett said everyone in the United States believes that George W. Bush deserves blame for the September 11, 2001 attacks.
“Ever since 9/11, many Americans, between one-third in some polls who say that the US government under Bush perpetrated the 9/11 attacks or intentionally let them happen in order to trigger war in the Middle East, and up to 90 percent of Americans in other polls, who say that they don’t really believe or fully believe the official story of 9/11, this issue has been a smoldering barrel of political dynamite,” he said. “And now it’s smoldering a little bit harder, and it might just go off.”
“According to Jeb Bush, the brother of George Bush, Jeb being the apparent favorite candidate to win the Republican nomination for president, at least until Trump emerged…Jeb is now on the defensive, arguing that his brother George W. Bush was not responsible and there’s no blame for the 9/11 attacks,” he added.
“Of course, this is an issue that Jeb cannot possibly win on, because no matter how you analyze the 9/11 attacks, whether you’ve done the full investigation using alternative sources, such as the magisterial work of Dr. David Ray Griffin, to learn that in fact the 9/11 attacks were not a surprise attack by a foreign enemy, they were in fact an inside job, a spectacular public relations stunt designed to create a neoconservative policy coup d’etat and launch a series of wars that would primarily benefit Israel,” he said.
“But whether you’ve done the research and figured that out or not, you have to admit that Bush was clearly responsible for 9/11 even if he was not actively complicit in this coup d’etat,” Dr. Barrett noted.
“And even if you refuse to admit that it was a coup d’etat, it’s obvious that Bush should be blamed for what happened,” he stated.
The September, 11, 2001 attacks, also known as the 9/11 attacks, were a series of strikes in the US which killed nearly 3,000 people and caused about $10 billion worth of property and infrastructure damage.
US officials assert that the attacks were carried out by 19 al-Qaeda terrorists but many experts have raised questions about the official account.
They believe that rogue elements within the US government, such as former Vice President Dick Cheney, orchestrated or at least encouraged the 9/11 attacks in order to accelerate the US war machine and advance the Zionist agenda.
Bush receives CIA briefing  
“In August of 2001, George W. Bush received the president’s daily briefing from the CIA, and it was headlined, ‘Bin Laden determined to attack in the United States’. Bush whipped his neck around and angrily screamed, ‘Well, you’ve covered your ass now,’” Dr. Barrett said.
“Of course, the ungenerous interpretation of this is that Bush knew full well that plans were proceeding apace for the big public relations event in September, and he did not appreciate the CIA briefer covering his posterior while passing the buck up to the president,” he added.
“The other interpretation would be that Bush is just such a complete fool and idiot that his outburst had no real meaning, and he should be blamed for 9/11 not as a complicit perpetrator, or someone who intentionally knew it was coming and let it happen, but rather someone whose incompetence was so overwhelming that somehow he caused the entire military defense system of the United States to have an unprecedented collapse,” he continued.
The American scholar went on to say that “the bottom line here is that it’s obvious to everyone in the United States that George W. Bush deserves blame for 9/11.”
“The only question is whether because he was insanely incompetent and somehow magically projected his grotesque incompetence on the rest of the government and then saw everyone who was incompetent get promoted, or was it something much, much worse. But the reality is it was much, much worse,” he emphasized.
“And if this political dynamite bomb goes off, it’s not just going to take out the Bush family, which has been the most corrupt organized crime family in America running the drug dealings at the CIA, among other things, but it’s going to take down the whole political system as we know it today, and possibly going to take down the US as a global empire,” he observed.
“That’s one reason everybody in the US here is afraid to open up this can of worms. But that actually would be a very good thing; nothing better could possibly happen to the planet than for this can of worms to get opened, and for the US empire to be taken down, and for something more in line with the ideals of America’s founding fathers to rise up out of the ashes,” Dr. Barrett concluded.