Nationwide Plant Closure Workers Second Stage

Compensation turned to debt, Justice through the Courts

Event description

In the late 1990s, many Taiwanese companies, such as Tongling Electronics, Lian Fu Garment, Fu Chang Textile, and Oriental Knitting, faced severe closures, leading to numerous workers being unable to receive severance pay and retirement benefits. In response, the government introduced the "Plant Closure and Unemployment Workers Entrepreneurial Loan" in 1998 to assist workers during this challenging period.

By 2012, the Chairperson of the Council of Labor Affairs (now the Ministry of Labor), Wang Ju-hsuan, citing administrative reasons, hired over 80 lawyers to pursue the repayment of principal and interest from the more than 1,300 workers who had received loans. This action sparked discontent among the workers and public opinion. Consequently, the Plant Closure Workers National Alliance, formed over a decade ago by unemployed workers, reorganized and took to the streets to fight for their rightful claims.

The case involved both legal battles and street protests. In the legal aspect, many pro bono lawyers stepped in, arguing that this loan was a "public law case" rather than a "civil law lending relationship," asserting that the government had a responsibility to assist these vulnerable workers. In terms of street protests, the Plant Closure Workers National Alliance launched several actions, including sit-ins, marches, and hunger strikes. For instance, on November 10, 2013, they conducted a "shoe-throwing protest" outside the Kuomintang (KMT) National Congress. The association even initiated a "rail sit-in protest" on the night of February 5, 2013, where about 100 members lay down on the platforms of Taipei Main Station, sparking discussions across society.

On March 7, 2014, the Taipei High Administrative Court ruled in favor of the workers, determining that the "entrepreneurial loan" was a form of national compensation. Moreover, due to exceeding the five-year statute of limitations for public law contracts, the debt automatically expired, relieving the workers from repayment obligations. Following the ruling, the Council of Labor Affairs voluntarily withdrew all ongoing lawsuits.


After the victory of the workers in the factory closure case, it inspired other labor movements. The Plant Closure Workers National Alliance continued to participate in various labor movements, including the "Freeway Toll Collectors' Protest."

Participating Organizations

Reference books