Sunday, November 17, 2013

My Opinion: In Taiwan, Equality is The Key to IWW Organizing

Equality is the key to IWW organizing principles, equality and a fair day's wages for a fair day's work. Let there be no doubt that lady workers should have the same pay scale as fellow workers, and that native workers should have the same pay for the same work performed as foreign workers, be they from affluent or under-privileged areas of the world. In the same way, the dues scale of a region is the same for a native and foreign IWW member worker depending only on his or her level of monthly income.

Overtime work is another issue of equality between domestic and foreign workers irregardless of the affluence of a worker's hometown. When a worker has full-time employment, meaning a forty-hour week, as defined in the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act of the USA, he or she must be paid overtime for work done beyond forty hours. Indeed, even a per-diem worker or part-time worker, with hours clearly defined, must be compensated at the same hourly rate for time spent doing business on regular business days, five days a week. Why should an under-privileged domestic worker work six or seven days a week when an affluent foreign worker is only held to five? On the other hand, why should an under-privileged foreign worker work six or seven days a week when an affluent domestic worker is held to five? In equal pay for equal work, there are no mitigating circumstances. The IWW must agree.

Vacation and personal days are another issue. There can be no vacation for a domestic worker that isn't a vacation for a foreign worker. The number of personal and sick days must be equal for both domestic and foreign workers. The national holidays stipulated by the ruling class of a region affect both domestic and foreign workers and both must follow the 'national' holidays, whether they are meaningful to the foreign worker or not. Indeed, personal days and sick days are the days a worker may take off to celebrate a personal or foreign holiday or just rest when rest is needed. This, as  Industrial Workers of the World, we must fight for.

As we go about working in Taiwan as a domestic or foreign worker from an affluent or under-privileded region, this should be the goal at our workplace. It is the heritage of the IWW to have equal rights as domestic workers, just as immigrant workers in Lawrence, Massachusetts, in 1911 fought for the 33 cents taken from their pay envelopes and fought the class struggle in the Strike for Three Loaves to do so. Whether we can persue equal pay for equal work overtly or clandestinly, as Wobblies, we must agitate to have it done and not be so haughty to accept higher pay from an under-privileged region just because the ruling class in Taiwan agrees it is okay to do so. We must fight on; agitate, educate, and organize our new compatriots, show solidarity with domestic Taiwanese workers, men and women alike, whatever their age.

Another area of equality between domestic and foreign workers is the language used at General Membership Meetings. No matter which language is spoken domestically, the IWW must strive to have meetings and literature available and useful to all speakers and readers present. The simplest terms, procedures, and rules must be a consideration for speakers of all languages. Translating must take precedent in all regions. As we build our union in Taiwan and Mandarin Chinese speaking regions of the world, let us remember these fundamental principles as we create the new world out of the shell of the old.

For One Big Union,
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