Capital: Tapei

Taiwan was expelled from the ILO in 1971 when China's membership of the UN transferred from the Republic of China (Tapei) to the Peoples' Republic of China (Beijing). Neither the ROC nor the PRC ratified either ILO Convention No. 87 (Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise, 1948) or Convention No. 98 (Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining, 1949).

The labour law originally focussed on large state-owned enterprises in which trade union membership became compulsory. During this time the Chinese Federation of Labour (CFL), which has close links with the KMT, was the sole permitted trade union centre. Under martial law strikes were forbidden, as were demonstrations, marches or picket lines. From 1987 strikes became legally possible action after mediation, but could be halted by arbitration. Strikes remained prohibited in four ‘essential’ industries (power, water, gas, and medical services) and are in practice uncommon in all sectors other than transport. Under the new legal regime strike rules have been considerably relaxed, however teachers remain deprived of the right to strike, and workers in ‘public interest’ employers, such as hospitals, water, telecoms, gas and power suppliers, must provide a minimum service. The right to strike may still be postponed, however, by arbitration rounds. In the late 2000s protection against anti-union discrimination was improved and teaching unions were legalised, but teachers are still denied the right to strike.

The Chinese Federation of Labour (CFL) originated in a Kuomintang labour organisation founded in mainland China in 1948 and thereafter remained closely enmeshed with the KMT. It received funding from the ruling party and had the role of administering workers’ insurance schemes and social and leisure programmes for workers. Until 2000 it was the only legal confederation. CFL still reports a membership of 3 million, though ITUC, to which it is affiliated, only records 250,000 current members. Taiwan Confederation of Trade Unions (TCTU) was legally recognised in 2000 and is associated with the DPP party. TCTU claims 280,000 members.

Full details of the country's political history, the development of trade unionism, and contact and affiliation details for all national trade union centres can be found in ICTUR's in-depth global reference book: Trade Unions of the World.

Link to reportFull country profile: Taiwan, from Trade Unions of the World (2016)

Link to letterIntervention: dismissals and arrests of trade unionists and protesters (2018)

The International Centre for Trade Union Rights

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union rights through research and advocacy services.
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