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Analyses on Development and Transformation of Labor Unions from the Perspective of Excellent Labor Unions Appraisal

Department of Business Administration, National Taipei University of Business
Associate Professor Kao, Pao-hua

       To ensure the comprehensiveness of labor unions and to harmonize employee-employer relationships, the Taipei City Government’s Department of Labor (DOL) has been conducting Excellent Labor Unions appraisals every year as part of the Labor Day events. This award symbolizes labor unions’ devotion and outstanding performance over the past year. All the participating labor unions have been committed to preparing for the event, hoping that their dedication will be recognized and highly praised as the model for all labor unions.

       Based on past experiences, a list of scoring items and scoring ratios for the appraisal have been revised constantly in the hope to select the Excellent Labor Unions in the fairest way. The seven major scoring aspects are as follows: A. Comprehensive labor union affairs and functionality. B. Institutionalization of voting system. C. Transparency of financial statements. D. Member service and management. E. Enhancement of on-the-job training. F. Fighting for labor rights. G. Labor union improvements and innovative approaches. There are numerous detailed items under each of these major aspects. In addition, to accentuate individual characteristics and relative significance, scoring ratios would vary in accordance with the distinctive natures of professional, business, or industry labor unions. 

       The first four major scoring aspects are governed by respective Labor Union Act and are under labor unions’ guidance and agenda on organizational and general affairs. The first major aspect of “comprehensive labor union affairs and functionality” includes: whether a charter of the union is in place, whether general meetings and meetings for the board of directors and supervisors are held per regulation, and if annual projects are planned and executed. The second aspect “institutionalization of voting system” includes: whether an election and recall regulations is in place, whether elections are held per regulations regularly, whether membership documentations are conducted during election, whether elections raise any disputes and if they are properly handled, and whether there are discharge statements. The third aspect “transparency of financial statements” includes: whether labor unions’ funds are used such that exclusive funds are appropriated for exclusive purposes, exclusive funds are saved in exclusive accounts, if labor insurance and health insurance fees are saved in exclusive accounts for exclusive usages, whether labor and health insurance fees are paid in time, whether quarterly financial reports are published on time, rules associated with refunds upon withdrawal from union are in place, and whether transparency is present around any payments and related standards. The fourth aspect “member service and management” includes: handling of members benefits, whether assistance for member employment exists, establishing members’ appeal channels, handling of members’ dispute, appeal, and incident reporting; these are the labor unions’ institutional and routine agenda.

       Major scoring items E-G vary widely due to each labor union’s business type and characteristics. Labor unions need to look into all detailed items to strategize accordingly. When providing labor education, labor unions should also reinforce on self-conducting the training programs in addition to applying government funds. Moreover, they should also cooperate with hosting subjects and actions on local labor authorities’ policy and be active in promoting gender equality in workplaces. Furthermore, in order to enhance labor unions’ capability in hosting labor education, they should be active in applying for Talent Quality Management System (TTQS) certification and for the autonomous learning project classes from the DOL. Therefore, labor competency and the concept of comprehensive labor rights will be enhanced.

       In terms of “fighting for labor rights”, including receiving and handling complaints on members’ labor disputes and all kinds of planning, discussion, negotiations and executions in regard to working towards the ultimate goal of signing collective agreement laws, labor unions should proactively fight for labor conditions that are better than those present in Labor Standard Act in addition to passively assisting the members to fight for their rights, so that the members could be benefited even more.

       The aspect of “labor union improvements and innovative approaches” includes cooperating with local labor authorities’ policies and events, purchasing products from sheltered workshops to care for disadvantaged workers, and utilizing electronic devices and the internet to communicate all kinds of messages to members. Moreover, enhancement of services for and coherence of the workers, increasing social services, and taking social responsibilities are all areas that could be focused on in the future.

       Following the transformation of our time and overall social environment, the operation and development of labor unions today are no longer in the sense of “labor insurance” unions as they were once mockingly named. As a result, in addition to the first four scoring aspects that focus on lawful regulations and establishing organizational structure, labor unions should also emphasize on working on the later three aspects. Only through actively developing and transforming themselves would the labor unions be able to create values for their members, government offices, and the society, and subsequently they will be rid of people’s negative impressions of the labor unions.