Some 40 trade unionists from Taiwan, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Mongolia, Nepal and Vietnam met in the Taiwanese capital of Taipei from 2-3 October 2017 for IndustriALL Global Union’s Asia-Pacific Electric Power Trade Union Network meeting.
At the meeting, the network resolved to become a driving force in the fight for workers’ rights and interests in the electric power and energy sectors, and push for good quality jobs in the face of technological transformation.
The network also reaffirmed its commitment to tackle precarious work, support democractic unions, and champion safe and secure electricity supply that limits the impact on the environment and people.
The meeting, which was hosted by the Taiwan Electric Power Labor Union (TPLU) and sponsored by the Ministry of Labour in Taiwan, included high-level guests Su Jia-chyuan, President of the Legislative Yuan of Taiwan, and Chu Wen-Chen, Chairman of the Board at the Taiwan Power Company (Taipower).
Su Jia-chyuan highlighted the challenge of safeguarding the quality of the electricity networks, while also guaranteeing workers’ rights. He said the Taiwanese government is supporting all the stakeholders to ensure good cooperation and exchange.
Deregulation, liberalization and technological change, combined with digitalization (Industry 4.0) and increased precarious work are the common challenges in the Asia-Pacific region, putting pressure on the industry and undermining the employment security of workers in the sector.
At the same time, the trend of “Energy Transition” to phase out of nuclear power and fossil fuels, is creating new tasks for trade unions to organize and protect workers in electric power sector.
“Technological change and the increase of precarious work are seriously influencing the jobs of our workers and union members. Additionally, the instable political situations in the world are creating significant obstacles to trade union movements,” said the out-going Chair of the network, Kim Joo-young, from KNEWU (South Korea). He said trade unions need to influence government policies on power and energy so that workers’ views are taken into consideration.
The network unanimously elected Kaoru Kishimoto, President of DENRYOKU SOREN (The Federation of Electric Power Related Industry Workers' Unions of Japan) as the new Chair.
On the second day of the meeting, the network participants visited the Linkou Power Plant, the biggest coal-fired plant in Taiwan. It is currently undergoing retrofitting to increase its electricity generation capacity to 2.4 GW at a cost of US$4.69 billion, with an environmental protection investment of around US$1.23 billion. The changes will help to improve efficiency of the plant by 7 per cent and reduce carbon emissions by 19 per cent. All 390 workers at the plant are unionized, including the General Manager.