TCTU Second Congress Declaration

TCTU document, Posted on Tuesday 24 June 24 2003 @ 10:15:28 CST

Building union democratization among rank-and-file workers in Taiwan!

As a part of the international labor movement, the mission of TCTU to improve working and living conditions for all workers has become more important than ever. The power to move forward comes from every one of us.

Certain events of the beginning of the 21st century still shock the whole world. Meanwhile, others have stated that neoliberal capitalism is the end of history. However, the disaster of terrorism, the counterattack of imperialism, the crisis of the market economy, and the spread of plague all reiterate the destructive power of capitalism. Under the worsening conditions of globalization and serious impact of SARS, Taiwanese workers’ basic rights of survival and work are facing serious challenges.

Taiwan workers defend every victory gained through severe struggle. After three years of fighting, we, the Taiwan Confederation of Trade Unions, successfully initiated a series of movements demanding the government to shorten work hours and resolve the increasing unemployment problems. We also participated in the National Economic Development and Consultation Conference, promoted legislation issues including Labor Laws, the Labor Retirement Pension Act, the Employment Insurance Act, and the Mass Layoff Workers Protection Law. Additionally, to fulfill the ideal of worker political participation, we fully supported leading labor movement activist, Mr. Tsung Mau-Hsin, in his campaign run for national legislator. TCTU’s consistent pro-labor stance, through all of these conflicts with employers, government, and other labor organizations, will be recognized by workers and labor movement history.

The last TCTU Congress declaration, Forge Outstanding New Unions, Fight Globalization initiated union democratization in Taiwan. We declared that TCTU would achieve the goals of a member-based presidential election and incorporate a representative system of union confederation. First, China Steel Union’s member-based presidential election won legal recognition in the high court. Second, within one year, two remarkable member unions accomplished the democratic election of union presidents. Kaohsiung City Confederation of Trade Unions, with over 30,000 members, conducted its member-based union presidential election on April 10th. The Confederation of Taipei Trade Unions also carried out member representative-based election of its president and became an incorporated representative union. Now, TCTU will hold member representative-based elections for the offices of president and vice-president at the Congress on June 19-20 2003, moving another step forward in union democratization. We believe that TCTU’s democratic organizational transformation will gradually build stronger social awareness and political strength to Taiwan’s labor movement.

The Taiwan Confederation of Trade Unions, established on May Day 2000, as the first union confederation to break the state-controlled monolithic union structure after World War II, has been considered the leader and standard of Taiwan’s independent labor movement. At this moment, we are grateful to say that TCTU’s first term efforts have made important contributions to the trade union movement. However, the struggle to strengthen the labor movement and to protect labor rights still has a long way to go. TCTU’s second term is expected to complete aims including:

1) Promote direct elections of union leaders to reinforce internal democratic reforms. TCTU has over 250,000 members, which are the basis of union’s organizing power. Member-based election of union leaders is the best way to enforce accountability to members and to show the actual political strength of workers. We sincerely expect that, in the coming term, TCTU will be able to facilitate member union reforms of direct, or member representative-based elections of union presidential officers.

2) Expand fundamental organization and facilitate trade union consolidation. TCTU will continue to support union organization expansion. For example, we will continue support of teachers’ struggles to form a national union, and the organization of employees in the public service sectors. As finance has been an important industry, we will help organize these service-sector employees to protect their working rights. In addition, to build up a nation-wide negotiation scheme for trade unions, TCTU will continue to facilitate the building of trade union confederations by industry.

3) Promote workers’ political participation and involvement in legislative reforms. In accordance with the experiences of the international labor movement, we demand proportional representation in the election of legislators that can show workers’ actual strength in political participation. Because there is not a process for selecting overall party representation in a coalition government, the dominance of individual candidates and parties can result in a political system that is beholden to money rather than the values and priorities of the people. Additionally, as legislation has great influence on labor and economic policies, which are crucial to rank-and-file workers’ fundamental rights, there must be a system to both cultivate worker participation as well as to develop workers’ legislative priorities. An important step has been taken in this direction with the workers survey conducted by TCTU over the last two months. Thus, TCTU’s second term agenda will combine the member-based elections of union leaders, as well as a proposed legislation reform agenda to demonstrate real political independence and to achieve the goals of social democracy.

4) Enforce social security and insist upon tax justice. Through severe conflicts and struggles between TCTU, government and employers’ delegates at the National Economic Development and Consultation Conference, an additional annuity system and a labor insurance annuity system have become alternatives for the national pension system reform agenda. We predict that the national pension system and national health insurance reform will be main points of conflict between employers and employees within three years. Based on the principles of social mutual-aid and redistribution of wealth, TCTU will keep watch on the reform agenda. We will continue to propose schemes that benefit labor and to oppose tax-reduced policies that only benefit the capitalists, and to press for enforcement of tax justice.

5) Support marginalized workers and enhance international solidarity. State-owned and large-scale enterprise unions are the majority of Taiwan’s developmental union structure. With increasing numbers of marginalized workers, such as part-time employees, women workers, immigrant workers, and disabled workers, our unions must put more efforts into organizing them and to raising their working conditions. Basic reforms and needs, including labor laws that protect marginalized workers and the facilitation of labor activities and organizing for these workers, are of crucial importance. It is our duty to enhance international working conditions and strengthen international solidarity in the era of globalization.

Farewell to the old century, move towards a new society was the theme of TCTU’s founding statement and initial expectation of itself. However, we observe that in the new century, wars, plagues, and poverty still exist and their tremendous impacts are spread all over the world through globalized capitalism. As a part of the international labor movement, the mission of TCTU to improve working and living conditions for all workers has become more important than ever. The power to move forward comes from every one of us.

Workers of Taiwan unite!