Workers and labor rights activists yesterday protested a meeting between Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) and the Chinese National Federation of Industries (CNFI) by holding a pudu (普渡) and later clashed with the police as they attempted to see the premier.
Protesters set up tables full of offerings and burned incense and ghost money in front of the Howard Plaza Hotel in Taipei as Jiang met with industry and business leaders, saying that they “would rather burn ghost money for good brothers than pay taxes to the government.”
Pudu is a traditional ritual in which food and drink are offered to spirits of the deceased — known as “good brothers” — during the seventh lunar month, Ghost Month, when it is believed that the “good brothers” are allowed a month of “vacation” from the underworld.
“Despite the sufferings of workers in the nation, the premier is meeting with business leaders in an air-conditioned room in a five-star hotel to ‘listen to their suggestions on economic policies,’” Taipei City Confederation of Trade Unions member Chen Shu-lun (陳淑綸) said. “If we read through a policy white paper released by the CNFI earlier, we could find that the business and industrial leaders are asking the government to lower labor and environmental standards, and cut taxes for them — in other words, the so-called economic development that the capitalists want would be at the expense of workers and the environment.”
Taiwan International Workers’ Association policy researcher Chen Hsiu-lien (陳秀蓮) said that the premier should show more concern for workers, since they are the major contributors to the government’s revenues.
“As the capitalists keep urging tax cuts for businesses, ordinary workers cannot dodge any tax payments, and thus we are the major taxpayers,” she said.
Chang Feng-yi (張烽益) of the Alliance for a Fair Tax Reform said that the government gave businesses a tax cut in 2008 because industry leaders promised that it would boost the economy.
“Years have gone by, nothing has improved ... the unemployment rate went up and the national debts is also skyrocketing,” Chang said. “The government should stop helping these uncompetitive businesses with taxpayers’ money.”
Green Citizens’ Action Alliance deputy secretary-general Hung Shen-han (洪申翰) panned business leaders for asking the government to loosen pollution controls and to lower environmental standards while also calling for extensions of service for the three operating nuclear power plants.
“Apparently, the capitalists do not care about human lives and property at all. They have cheaper energy and manpower so that they can make more money,” he said.
The protesters had several clashes with police as they attempted to enter the hotel.
The attempts failed, injuring several protesters — who vowed to launch more surprise protests.