by Brian Hioe
P.Hoto Credit: Miramar Labor Union, self-employed and self-employed, fired to protest blood and sweat Golf / Facebook
WORKERS AT a Miramar-owned golf course in Linkou, Taoyuan, has been on strike for two months. Nevertheless, the strike received little media coverage as it takes place at the same time as the current level 3 COVID-19 warning. As expected, it has proven difficult to protest in COVID-19 conditions.
Miramar employees demonstrate against the company’s plans to transfer the golf course between three subsidiaries. As a result, the company plans to lay off some workers as part of its restructuring. The workers at Miramar are therefore calling for workers to be reinstated and criticizing Miramar for illegally firing its workers.
Demonstration on July 9th in front of the President’s Office. Credit: The self-employed and self-employed Miramar union was sacked to protest the blood and sweat Golf / Facebook
There have been numerous labor disputes on the golf course in recent years, and not just because of the dismissal of workers by Miramar. In 2018, Linkou golf course workers became the first union to strike after the Tsai government’s amendments to the Labor Standards Act the company owed them. With 15 workers laid off in 2018 being union members, it has been criticized as a form of union busting.
This is also the case with the current restructuring. The golf course will be split into four companies, three of which are subsidiaries, and the split took place on May 8th. However, as these companies will employ fewer than thirty workers, this is fewer than the minimum number of workers required to form a union. Thirteen employees, including eight union members and the chairman of the Miramar golf course union, will also be laid off.
The struggle could be of great importance to the future trade union organization in Taiwan as it could set a legal precedent. Namely, if Miramar is successful, it will be the first company to dissolve a union under the Law on Mergers and Acquisitions. As a result, it is possible that more companies will use these union bust tactics.
The current strike appears to have suffered in part from poor timing. The strike started as a wildcat strike on May 11, with 29 of 44 union members agreeing to the strike. As a result, workers barricaded the entrance to the golf course at 3:30 a.m. on May 11th. The union’s demands were that the golf course should have fewer than 50 contractors at any given time and that no workers should be fired without the union’s consent.
The shift to the still valid alert level three took place on May 19. While there has not yet been a full lockdown, the level three warning prohibits outdoor gatherings of more than ten people and indoor gatherings of more than five people. But the level three restrictions haven’t stopped Miramar staff from finding creative ways to demonstrate. Workers placed over twenty life-size clippings depicting each worker in front of the President’s Office on July 9th. Pulling large displays of golf balls and Five members held a press conference outside the New Taipei City government on July 11th. Workers shaved their heads outside of the presidential office as a token of condemnation, but were later fined by the Taipei City Environmental Protection Agency for shaving their heads in the street.
Tent erected by striking workers. Credit: The self-employed and self-employed Miramar union was sacked to protest the blood and sweat Golf / Facebook
There were several meetings between the union, management and relevant government agencies, with the golf courses originally slated to open on July 13 after some level 3 measures were eased. At least some agreement has been reached between the two sides on equipment safety maintenance on the golf course. The dispute takes place despite previous court judgments supporting the union.
The Taoyuan Confederation of Trade Unions (TCTU), one of the most militant unions in the last few years of industrial action, particularly during demonstrations against the changes to the Labor Standards Act by the Tsai government in 2017 and 2018, was among those who expressed their support for the gold course workers. The Golf Course Union was founded in 2016 under the auspices of the TCTU.
It is noteworthy, however, that the golf course union has also made many of its appeals to the central government for advocacy. This is a common tactic in Taiwan for workers’ demonstrations, or actually any kind of protest by appealing to the central government to resolve a political dispute. With no media attention and the public focusing more on efforts to fight COVID-19, it has been difficult for the union to get the public’s attention.