Hundreds of people held flags and banners and danced to electronic music as they shouted out their demands on Ketagalan Boulevard in Taipei yesterday at the annual “autumn fight (秋鬥)” calling for workers and minority rights.
The event’s convener, National Federation of Independent Trade Unions honorary chairman Lin Tzu-wen (林子文), said the electronic music this year was meant to help attract young people to the cause, because many appear to be passive toward politics despite often being among the working poor, a result of the current unjust social structure.
More than 40 protest groups nationwide representing labor unions, gay rights, farmers’ rights, environmental concerns, the anti-nuclear movement and housing rights partook in the “autumn fight.”
The annual “autumn fight” began 23 years ago as an annual labor rights protest rally and in recent years has come to include minority rights.
Lin said the groups all have separate demands, but they collectively represent a broader fight against social injustice.
People from different walks of life are facing injustice from employers and discrimination, and only when minority groups come together can their voices be heard, he said.
“We ask for a society that -centers on humans and humanity, in which the value of labor can be recognized,” he said.
Co-convener Kuo Ming-chu (郭明珠) of Raging Citizens Act Now said their main demand was “political justice, a fair economy and social justice.”
“Political justice is not only about the right to vote, but also to participate in policymaking; a fair economy is not limited to free competition in the labor market, but also includes a fair distribution of profits,” she said, adding that workers are not getting basic respect or a share of the benefits from the nation’s economic development that they work hard to accomplish, and some have even been asked to take unpaid leave.
Taiwan International Workers Association member Meriam said a vast number of foreign household workers in Taiwan were not -protected by the law concerning appropriate working hours or the right to switch employers, urging the government to modify the laws to better protect their working rights under the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法).
Chen Ping-hsuan (陳平軒), a member of Taiwan Rural Front, said farmers have joined hands with laborers to fight for their rights in view of recent controversial cases of farmland expropriation and water being used for industrial development over farmland.
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