Taiwanese Unions Win Worktime Cuts

ICEM Update, no. 4/2001, 26 January 2001

Taiwan’s trade unions have won their fight to reduce legal working hours.

This month, the standard working week has been cut from 48 hours to 42.

A law to that effect had in fact been passed by the Legislative Yuan, Taiwan’s parliament, last June. This followed a strong trade union campaign. But employers had been lobbying hard against the measure, and the government at one stage intended to raise the limit back up to 44 hours.

The Taiwanese unions fought back with a further high-profile campaign. Global trade union support played a vital role in their victory.

The Chinese Federation of Labour (CFL) is Taiwan’s trade union centre, with 3,600 affiliated unions. The Confederation of Industrial Trade Unions (CITU) groups 18 major Taiwanese industrial unions. Dual affiliations to the two bodies are held by the petroleum workers’ TPWU and the power workers’ TPLU, both of which are affiliated at the global level to the 20-million-strong International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers’ Unions.

At the parliament buildings in Taipei last month, ICEM General Secretary Fred Higgs joined the Taiwanese unions in talks with Deputy Prime Minister Lau Ching-Chi and other legislators.

Your visit to Taiwan and the meeting with the parliamentary leaders was one of the key factors in the victory of our struggle, Huang Ching-Hsien told Higgs today.

Huang, who played a prominent part in the parliamentary talks, is President both of the CITU and of the TPWU. He said the Taiwanese unions would be networking closely and actively with the ICEM.