Kaohsiung City Laundry and Cloth Dyeing Union president Liu Yi-teh (劉懿德) called President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) a liar for saying that the government would not allow Chinese workers to work in Taiwan when the cross-strait service trade agreement becomes effective and that Taiwanese workers would not be affected.
Liu was referring to the trade agreement Taiwan and China signed in Shanghai on June 21 that would open service sectors on both sides to further cross-strait exchanges.
“Ma apparently does not know that the laundry sector is already suffering. Many laundry stores have gone out of business as a result of the recession,” Liu said, adding that allowing Chinese investment would only make the situation worse.
Under the pact, 64 Taiwanese industries will be open to Chinese investment, while China will open up 80 industries to Taiwan.
Liu said Ma was being authoritarian-minded and that Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers only care about the party rather than the public.
“The government not only implements policies that damage the people’s rights, but also ignores voices of opposition,” he said.
Tsou Ching-wen (鄒靜文), secretary of the union, said the service pact would have a huge impact on Taiwan’s laundry sector, which has already been hit by the recession, as well as competition from corporate laundry stores.
She accused the government of damaging the industry further by allowing Chinese investment.
Liu said most laundry stores in Taiwan are family-run coin-laundry stores, and are convenient, inexpensive and popular among college students.
Liu said the laundry market is already full, and allowing Chinese investment to compete with Taiwanese businesses will only make the situation worse.
Liu added that working in the laundry sector is not easy, so it is hard to find young people willing to work in the industry.
To cut hiring costs, many laundry stores are operated by the owner and the owner’s spouse, and Liu said he could not believe that the government is going to destroy their dreams and future.
“The government never talked to us before deciding to open up to Chinese investment,” Liu said, criticizing the government for not listening to the people and making decisions unilaterally.
“Don’t forget the people are the boss,” Liu said, urging opposition lawmakers to insist on opposing the pact, as well as to host public hearings outside Taipei to learn just how upset people are.