Textile workers occupy Hualon Factory
Solidarity needed in fight to save jobs
Three hundred textile
workers in the Hualon Corporation’s factory in Miaoli County,
Taiwan declared indefinite strike more than a month ago on 6
June. Since then they have occupied the factory for one month to
stop the machines from being moved out. They are fighting for
money owed on their wages and pensions going back over a decade.
On 25 June, the 300 workers
went to Taipei, the capital, to protest against the government
for not intervening, but received no response. On 26 June,
workers went to blockade the home of the boss, who has claimed
bankruptcy, but still lives in a luxurious villa and has an
expensive European sports car. Workers were brutally repressed
by the police outside the villa, and some supporting students
were also wounded.
In the past 15 years, the
bloody attacks from the owners of Hualon have never stopped.
Since 1997 the company stopped making any increases in wages due
to “bad management”. In 1999, the company stopped paying annual
bonuses to the workers. Then in October 2001, the management
started to cut wages. Workers then tried to organize, but were
finally betrayed by scabs. A female worker and leader then
committed suicide as a result of the pressure from the
management. The suicide incident was a serious setback to the
labour movement in local factories. “…after Chiu’s [worker
leader] forced death, no one dared to stand out and fight back…”
says a female textile worker.
It was not until the workers
recently retook control of the union that they dared to fight.
Three years later, in 2004, the company again cut wages by 30%.
In 2008, the management attacked again, wanting the workers to
increase production 130% in order to get the 100% wage. It
turned out that 50% of workers could not reach the level of the
minimum wage, which is their legal right.
Most workers in Hualon are
women around 50 years old. Their working conditions were
unimaginably bad. Everyone had to work over-time; some had to
move hundreds of 40kg bundles of yarn. A 12-hour-working-day is
average in order to meet the 130% productivity, and there were
only 3 days off in a month.
ownership changes nothing
After the claimed bankruptcy
of the boss, the vice-chairperson of the local council bought
the factory. The action of the workers attracted more hostility
from local government. “The government has totally disappointed
us”, one of them declared. “Now I understand that the government
and the law are all on the bosses’ side. The government will not
help us; the law is useless. We, the workers, are on our own. If
we don’t organise and fight, then we’ll have nothing!”
Now the management is trying
to sell the machines and land to pay their debts, but workers
will get nothing. Though the boss has claimed bankruptcy, he is
still leading a luxurious life and it is heard that he is
starting up another yarn factory in Vietnam.
We support the workers’
demand that the capitalists should pay the workers their back
wages and pension money. We support their occupation to stop the
sale of machines and land to the banks.
We are appealing to trade
unionists in other countries to send messages of solidarity to
the Hualon workers and to protest to Taiwan’s government. You
can send protests to the Taiwan Government via your local
consulate and to the Ministry of Labour via the messages part of
Please send solidarity
messages to the Hualon workers at: email@example.com and
copies to: firstname.lastname@example.org
As most Taiwan workers
cannot read English, please copy and paste this Chinese message
to your letter/email:
This means: ‘We support your
struggle. The Taiwan government is showing itself to be the
enemy of working people and the defender of corrupt capitalists
by its shocking refusal to listen to Hualon workers and meet
your demands. By solidarity and struggle you can win your
rights. Demand the TW government to nationalize Hualon and
guarantee workers’ jobs, pensions and owed wages. Demand the
company’s books are open to public inspection and to
representatives of the workers. International solidarity with
From CWI Taiwan