At the meeting in Taipei in late October, one local resident agonized over how the IWW could become relevant to workers in Taiwan. He talked about the Taiwanese character of conciliation with their employers and acceptance of top-down management. This is not only a Taiwanese impediment to unionizing workplaces.
I suggested we take Elizabeth Gurley Flynn’s tact of agitating workers who have been displaced by mismanagement. For example, workers from the Chang Chi Foodstuff Factory Co who made substandard food products will be on furlough and possibly lose their jobs. The IWW could suggest to them that they take over the factory after the owner files for bankruptcy, as he probably will. The same is true of the workers from Chyuan Shun Food Enterprise Co that was found mixing cheaper Vietnamese rice with Taiwanese rice and selling the mixture as domestic rice in August 2013 or Top Pot Bakery’s lies about not using artificial flavorings which will affect workers who could lose their jobs. These workers need agitators and organizers and may be prone to listen to IWW ideas of self-management and organizing.
I also mentioned how Sun Yat-Sen the socialist, perhaps anarchist, could be a thread with which to agitate Taiwanese workers and move them from acquiescing to employers sways. His mention was scoffed at by China-unification supporters present at the meeting; to them Chinese Communist takeover is the only socialism they would accept. The IWW sees no national borders. Organize where you work.
At any rate, the IWW has to thread a needle to become known in Taiwan to labor groups and organizations and fellow workers. Going to pro-worker demonstrations and handing out business card is a good idea. Another would be meeting students at universities. In all cases, Mandarin is the language of the people and must be used to communicate. Holding meetings predominately in Mandarin, writing articles in Mandarin, adding worker related news articles, endorsing Taiwan workers organizations on our blog (www.taIWWan.blogspot.com) on the www.iww.org website, and becoming friends with the movement on our Facebook page (taIWWan ROC) could be used to put us on the page in the Taiwan labor movement.
For One Big Union