Thursday, March 16, 2006

More Worker Disputes at Formosa Plastics

I fully intend to get back to the band tour, but I keep getting email press releases about this and it is certainly worth passing on. The third workers' strike in a year at Formosa Plastics (FPC) town-sized chemical production campus in Mailiao, Yunlin County, Taiwan happened last week on Mar. 13-14. It was the biggest strike yet. Aparently the Thais and Filipinos have put old grudges behind them and are trying to force collectively bargaining with 1000 or more workers ready to come off the lines. This despite laws that forbid aliens from forming labor unions, their general lack of rights, and all the dirty pressure Formosa Plastics has been able to apply, most notably the case of beating up and deporting Gil Lebria and 11 other Filipino workers after the first strike last July.

According to a recent press release by the Asian Pacific Mission for Migrants, the major demands are as follows:

1. They are against the payment of the brokers fee and
2. Against the payment of the board and lodging fee

Here are a few more excerpts from the (fairly long) release:

The CLA has already admitted in the past although verbally that the brokers
fee is actually a management fee. Meaning it is the workers themselves who pay
for the expenses of the employers for their management costs which are being
done by the brokers....

Migrant workers had to pay for their own board and lodging fees starting
2001 because the employers petitioned President Chen Shiu Bian for this. Their
contention was that they would want their production costs to go down. Before
2001, this was guaranteed free in their employment contracts. In essence this
was a wage cut in the guise of payment for board and lodging.

Dodgy practices workers want to see more regulated include: 1) employers' subcontracting workers to other companies with which the workers have no formal contracts or agreements; 2)financial management, whereby companies have complete control over workers' allowances (i.e. the amount of money they can draw to spend while in Taiwan) as well as remittances (i.e. the workers cannot pick their banks and transfer their own cash, as employers insist that they must do this for them).

A practice that is completely illegal yet extremely common is for employers to hold Alien Resident Certificates and passports - basically as ransom against possible flight.

More from the release:

....Going back to the situation in FPC, if the workers conditions are not
improved, other strikes might occur in the near future. The workers both Thai
and Filipino have already proven in practice that they are capable of doing
this. They are not intimidated anymore by the restrictions on their rights being
imposed by the company.

The only solution would be to have another
negotiation in ! the near future between the workers and management. The workers
should be represented by their own choosing and have the right also to choose
other outside groups like NGO¡¦s to assist them in their negotiations and not
only by their government representatives. [Note: only legislators and government
officials were allowed at the last round of negotiations.] During the last
strike, not one migrant was involved in the negotiation process inside FPC¡¦s
administration building.


Post a Comment

<< Home