Thursday, October 27, 2016

Fighting to keep Chiang Kai-shek's birthday holiday? Really?

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Just checking in - I'm still working quite hard collecting stories of immigration troubles, and a few of them are truly tragic. But, I've got to fact-check and figure out how I'm going to structure this post, so it's looking like it will be something of a longer-term project. Bear with me, and I'll keep people updated. I have a few more people to interview, some folks to call, some visits to make etc. before I even start writing. This is on top of preparing to go to grad school and doing a TEFL professional development project involving action research. Oh, and working too.

I also have a really nice long post on Yunlin County coming up, so keep an eye out for that.

In the meantime, I just have to say I'm not sure what to make of the whole 'seven holidays' snafu. It took awhile to even figure out which holidays are being cut (turns out it's the 7 extra days we randomly got this year and not some other holidays). This stands to reason, but was not immediately obvious and I needed to be sure before I commented.

So...I dunno. On one hand, I am all for more holidays. Taiwanese work far too long, and laws limiting employers from forcing them to work too much overtime are not very effective; at least, they are not enforced well at all. In such a pro-boss hierarchical culture I am not sure they ever will be, though Taiwan has surprised me before. And I certainly do not think the "one day off, one flexible rest day" is a good idea. Everybody knows they'll have to work on that day and probably get cheated out of overtime pay (even if they don't, some people would rather have that day off anyway). This is a country where bosses regularly force workers to ignore typhoon days to come in, which is deeply illegal! It's just window dressing on the real goal of re-instituting the six-day work week, and it's bullshit.

I honestly think we should have more holidays, and days off on Friday/Monday for holidays that fall on a weekend. But I can't really wrap my head around the protests to the cuts of these particular holidays.

Some of them are fine - Teacher's Day, Constitution Day (created so Chiang Kai-shek's wife, Soong Mei-ling, who was a Christian, could have Christmas off). But some of them are totally batshit - who in their right mind wants Retrocession Day or Chiang Kai-shek's birthday, or even Sun Yat-sen's birthday (less offensive but equally a KMT import rather than a reason for an authentic Taiwanese celebration)? It's really odd to see a bunch of Taiwan-identifying civic activists and labor rights protestors rallying around the Legislative Yuan - the same sort of people who fought against CSSTA and are generally strongly pro-Taiwan and pro-independence - to save the holiday reserved for a murderous dictator, the worst person Taiwan has ever known.

(Side note: I find it hilarious that Chiang Kai-shek's birthday falls on Halloween, because his ghost truly haunts Taiwan still).

All this means I'm not sure which side to take here. I want holidays but not those holidays - an angle I don't see reported in the press at all. I fear my views might be closest to those of the KMT and that is really terrifying and not okay.

I also want 5-day work weeks, and I want holiday make-up days for those that land on a weekend. Basically, I want the government to tell the Boss Class to shove it, that they have to give their workers adequate time off whether they like it or not.

So I think I'll abstain from this protest and instead rally quietly for, I dunno, Formosa Day (commemorating the Kaohsiung Incident), Nylon Cheng Day, Declaration of the Republic of Formosa Day (for the date in 1895 when Taiwan declared independence and held onto it for several months following the departure of the Qing), Sunflower Day (haha, probably not going to happen), White Lily Day, Democracy Day.

As much as I want more holidays for the working people of Taiwan, I just can't bring myself to insist that we should keep stupid buttclown Chiang Kai-shek's stupid birthday, and it will never stop being weird to me to see pro-Taiwan activists demanding it.

2 comments:

Pierre said...

“I honestly think we should have […] days off on Friday/Monday for holidays that fall on a weekend.”

Isn't that already the case?

And why can't we just name October 31st any kind of holiday? The Japanese do that all the time! They have the “Greenery Day”, the “Children's Day”, the “Ocean Day”, the “Mountain Day”, the “Respect for the Aged Day” and even the “Health and Sports Day”! If they can make up stupid holidays so that their people have days off, why can't Taiwan use, as you pointed out, any meaningful person for Taiwan, such as Nylon?

So yep, I'll enjoy my October 31st holiday. I'll call it the “Are We Out Of Horribly Hot Indian Summer Yet?” day.

Jenna Cody said...

Yes, but the law is confusing. It says we have a 5-day work week, but that bosses can have you work up to 84 hours in two weeks, and have to give you at least one rest day per week, which some bosses take to mean that they can ask you to work Saturday without paying overtime although that is not technically following the very contradictory law. This new law appears to be an attempt to rectify the situation but as I see it only makes it worse (or at best is treading water as you can still be made to work Saturday but paying a lot of overtime for it is more clearly required by law).

I agree about simply renaming the holidays, but I'd like that to be done officially.