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Inter‐ethnic and labour‐community coalitions in class struggle in Taiwan since the advent of temporary immigration

Robert Tierney (School of Marketing and Management, Charles Sturt University, Bathurst, Australia)

Journal of Organizational Change Management

ISSN: 0953-4814

Article publication date: 4 July 2008




This paper aims to analyse the class dimensions of racism in Taiwan against temporary migrant workers and migrants' efforts to build inter‐ethnic and labour‐community coalitions in struggle against racism.


An important source of data for this study were the unstructured interview. Between September 2000 and December 2005, more than 50 temporary migrants and their support groups in Taiwan were interviewed, specifically about migrants' experiences of racism and their resistance strategies. These interviews were conducted face‐to‐face, sometimes with the assistance of translators. Between 2001 and 2007, some 70 people were interviewed by telephone, between Australia and Taiwan.


In Taiwan, temporary migrants suffer the racism of exploitation in that capital and the state “racially” categorize them as suitable only for the lowest paid and least appealing jobs. Migrants also suffer neglect by and exclusion from the labour unions. However, migrants have succeeded, on occasions, in class mobilization by building powerful inter‐ethnic ties as well as coalitions with some labor unions, local organizations and human rights lobbies.

Research limitations/implications

The research raises implications for understanding the economic, social and political conditions which influence the emergence of inter‐ethnic bonds and labour‐community coalitions in class struggle.

Practical implications

The research will contribute to a greater appreciation among Taiwan's labour activists of the real subordination of temporary migrant labour to capital and of the benefits of supporting migrants' mobilization efforts. These benefits can flow not only to migrants but also to the labour unions.


A significant body of academic literature has recently emerged on temporary and illegal migrants' efforts to engage the union movements of industrialized host countries. There is a dearth, however, of academic research on the capacity of temporary migrants to invigorate union activism in Asia, including Taiwan.



Tierney, R. (2008), "Inter‐ethnic and labour‐community coalitions in class struggle in Taiwan since the advent of temporary immigration", Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 21 No. 4, pp. 482-496.



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Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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