Thursday, November 28, 2013

My Opinion: Hold The Fort: The IWW in Taiwan

In view of the American/Kuomintang/ Chinese Communist Party (KMT/CCP) hold on Taiwan's political, economic, and military future, the working person would do well to hold on and support the freedom of the press, the right to assemble, private land rights, food safety, and environmental protection. "Communist" China's unilateral ruling-class decisions allows for none of these freedoms. Some Taiwan media does pay attention to what the people feel and want but it is few and far between. There's one aspect that Taiwan people under the KMT never had: workers rights.

"Workers rights" is what is missing from these populist issues that have taken root in Taiwan since the KMT decided to lift its record breaking forty-year martial law. Workers rights to a living wage, workplace safety, and stable hours doesn't exist here. Taiwan has never had them. Now it's even impossible to find full-time employment in franchises, both imported and domestic. Independent labor unions are still tightly controlled by the government. Taiwan labor organizations run lame, unconnected, and aimless. Some think throwing shoes at posters of people you don't like is the solution; it is not the solution.

While the guise of two-party democracy has been forged by the Democratic Peoples' Party (DPP), neither party has championed job security, safety, a forty hour work week with overtime pay, or even a five day work week. Nowadays even a full time job is scarce and the salary for entry level jobs has remained the same as they were 16 years ago. The right to organize and have collective bargaining is dim. Business owners still enjoy unequal decision making and the power w to make whatever demands on the workers they wish to make. As a result, under-employment is rampant while the prices of food, fuel, transportation have continued to rise. The dream of owning a house have slipped away as investors corner the housing market.

Workers must fight harder for the labor rights they never had and will continue not to have as Taiwan is handed over to China. Environmentalists and consumer advocates merely have to hold on to the liberal rights they've been allowed to come to expect but workers must start from scratch, clandestinely, like they did against the robber barons in the guilded age in America. The IWW has the spirit that animates the labor movement, no matter when, no matter where. Each worker has the power and responsibility to try and unionize their own workplace and show solidarity to workers who are trying to organize their own workplaces. Inclusive collective decision making of IWW unionism is the key; not top-down decision-making such as in business unions. Don't let anyone tell you the workers here are any different from oppressed workers around the world. We all suffer financial abuses from our bosses. Take the power into your own hands, fellow workers! Don't ask the union to do it for you; you are the union. Join the IWW and start your own union.


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