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Union protest over economy has legitimate foundation

Union members announced yesterday that they will stage a demonstration on Oct. 28 against recent government policies that they claim do not help the economy, oppress laborers and please only business owners.

Union members said that the government is incompetent in dealing with the economic downturn. The only method the Cabinet knows for creating economic growth is helping private enterprises exploit laborers. Worker representatives argue that the recent delay of the minimum monthly wage hike and the easing of the restriction on foreign laborers will return Taiwan to what it was 30 years ago, when the economy was sustained by cheap labor.

Union members also questioned the government's move to encourage Taiwanese businesses in mainland China to come back and invest in Taiwan. These businesses rely on cheap labor in mainland China to turn a profit.

The members warned that since private enterprises in Taiwan are already accustomed to paying low salaries to their employees, the strong ties between businesses and the government may lead to further exploitation of workers if no one takes to the street to voice disapproval.

The union also said that their protest is not only for the benefit of workers, but also for the benefit of the country, so that it may not suffer from simple-minded policies which lack long-term considerations.

Interestingly, this time the claims of union members find their foundations in right-wing economics.

Economists do not always consider economic downturn an outright negative outcome for society. Instead, economic downturn is a challenge for private enterprises. During economic crises, companies that are less competitive leave the market, while those that can adjust remain. As a result, the economy as a whole becomes healthier. When the economic condition improves, the performance of these remaining companies will be stronger.

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