Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 6th Apr 2010 22:00 UTC, submitted by Cytor
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless "Last Friday HTC unveiled its entry-level Smartphone, aptly named the Smart. [...] However, what we'd like to tell you about is not the new handset, but instead what happened during the press event inside the Taipei 101. This news story hasn't made it outside of Taiwan so far and we felt it was worth reporting on, despite the event taking place a few days ago. As the press conference was drawing to a close and the group photos were about to be taken, the event was gate crashed by representatives for one of HTC's suppliers. A woman came in shouting with several other people following her and there was a general confusion among the media at the event. The HTC PR representatives were doing their best to drag her away from the stage, while she was trying to hand over some kind of a list to Peter Chou, the president and CEO of HTC."
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Right on!
by shaunehunter on Wed 7th Apr 2010 03:41 UTC
shaunehunter
Member since:
2007-02-12

A strong union movement is what the developing world needs. Before anyone argues, that's how we in the western world got to be treated like "people" by our employers.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Right on!
by Laurence on Wed 7th Apr 2010 10:58 UTC in reply to "Right on!"
Laurence Member since:
2007-03-26

A strong union movement is what the developing world needs. Before anyone argues, that's how we in the western world got to be treated like "people" by our employers.


I always considered Taiwan to be reasonably developed.
Granted I've never visited there personally, but from the pictures I've seen of it and the number of technology companies I've worked with would indicate it's not the same backwards semi-industrialised country Britain was pre-unions.

Reply Score: 2

shaunehunter Member since:
2007-02-12

Unions were a response to industrialization and currently like Britain and the US at the beginning of the Labour movements Taiwan, China, India and the majority of countries in the world don't have strong, enforced or any labour laws. People are exploited buy their employers because well, more work + less pay equals higher profit. labour movements will happen in these countries it's just a question of when.

It's worth mentioning Taiwan has only been a democracy for 23 years. During their industrialization they were under martial law and a one party system. How does the similar time frame strike ya.

I hope for this so people in these countries can enjoy our quality of life.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Right on!
by JonathanBThompson on Wed 7th Apr 2010 15:01 UTC in reply to "Right on!"
JonathanBThompson Member since:
2006-05-26

Where the work is very predictable in complexity and duration and is easily quantified, it makes far more sense in terms of setting consistent wages: otherwise, standard Worker's Rights laws in the US (pay for overtime, breaks, etc. as mandated by law) work well enough in practice, especially if there is more than one employer in an area that employs that type of worker (usually the case in the US).

Software development is one of the rare fields where it's nearly impossible to decipher how good and effective one developer is over another and quantify it consistently: quantifying a position's output where by definition, the output and its nature change each time, and is working on something that's unknown a lot of the time to the worker in each situation as a result of creating something new (or at least new to the employees working on it at the time) and making sure it works correctly is something you simply cannot make work. In addition, unlike the typical factory assembly line worker or manual laborer, the requirements of some particular task varies wildly from developer to developer: not all developers have exactly the same past experience, and they never will, unless developers are given exactly as much latitude and responsibility as the typical assembly line worker, which means little to no creativity used. If you thought software development was unpredictable now, with almost constant schedule slips, imagine how it would be where everyone was attempting to equalize the amount of work they had to do by providing their own time/effort estimates!

The history of unions in the US has been a rather spotty one: at the very first part of their existence, they're actually quite useful to the workers they represent, as things generally have to be incredibly crappy for people to sign up to them, if the people otherwise have any ambitions of advancement in their position/field that they're currently working in: after awhile, the union exerts more and more control, at a higher portion of union dues, and has been known to drive companies completely out of business with their demands: they become as bad or worse than the bad situation they presume to prevent. Along with that, unions in the US often make it much harder to get rid of incompetent and/or lazy/bad workers, making those that are good workers have to stew about the bad ones, knowing they're getting screwed over for doing their jobs well: where's the incentive to do what you can and do it well, when that's going on, other than personal pride in the job you do? While there have been some unions (I can't name them, unfortunately, but I've heard of them) that self-dissolve after they've accomplished their goals as they were setup to do in their charter, that's the exception rather than the rule.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Right on!
by Radio on Wed 7th Apr 2010 17:55 UTC in reply to "RE: Right on!"
Radio Member since:
2009-06-20

That's still no excuse to treat your employees the way YoungFast does: not paying the work done, and forcing people to risk their lives during typhoons.

So, I voted you down. You're off-topic. Read the f*cking link, for once.

Reply Score: 0

RE[3]: Right on!
by JonathanBThompson on Wed 7th Apr 2010 18:27 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Right on!"
JonathanBThompson Member since:
2006-05-26

I did read the article, and, admittedly, I was responding to the OP which was a bit off topic. I agree, there's no excuse for a company to mistreat their employees that way: I stated that fairly clearly (for those that don't have a problem with reading comprehension) early on, and that's universal, unionized or not.

BTW, watch your f@cking mouth in your replies!

Reply Score: 2

I call B.S.
by shaunehunter on Thu 8th Apr 2010 04:29 UTC in reply to "RE: Right on!"
shaunehunter Member since:
2007-02-12

This article wasn't about software developers it was about factory workers. Just like the Labour movement was about them and not engineers.

Your argument using software developers is illogical. First you state the quality of a developer can't be determined then presume that a company employing union workers can't reward their employees based on merit and achievement and must all earn an equal wage. I think your getting unions confused with communism as a lot of conservitive americans/canadians do.

Unions still benefit and protect workers. Most good paying, safe and stable jobs are union (ie. government,health care, auto, oil & gas). It can be true that its harder to fire problem employees but in my opinion if they don't cost the company more than paying the severance then their not that much of a problem. A union can't force a company to keep someone, companies want to terminate without acknowledging the collective bargaining agreement. Think about it.

A union has never driven a business under thats just an excuse for bad management (ie. GM, Chrysler).

I think your poorly enformed and need to read up on the labour movements of the industrial revolution and the conditions that lead to them. You can draw a line between their struggles and what we consider not just acceptable but humane working conditions. Commonly known and documented history backs my opinions so I have to insist on them.

Reply Score: 2

RE: I call B.S.
by JonathanBThompson on Thu 8th Apr 2010 14:15 UTC in reply to "I call B.S."
JonathanBThompson Member since:
2006-05-26

Just because your reading comprehension sucks as well as your correct use of english sucks and you're yelling at the top of your voice does not mean that you are correct in your assertions.

I'm not saying bad working conditions should be accepted: when employees have options of other employers, based on their training and experience and demonstrated skill and productivity, they can better bargain individually than as a group.

Outside of a few situations where productivity and accuracy is easily assessed on-the-spot for work, unions and the typical group bargaining for wages does NOT make sense. Why? In typical assembly line jobs, or jobs where there is a quota of correctly mated/manufactured parts, it's easy to determine who is good/bad at their jobs, since their jobs are simple and they simply don't have much room for variation in ability based on skill, and time on the job only means time on the job, but doesn't really affect their production efficiency beyond a training period. Other such jobs would be, for example, public transportation and garbage collection, and other easily quantifiable positions that can be quantified on a very short-term basis, as none of these types of jobs has more than a day's timeline for any task completed. Perhaps things are different in places other than the US and Canada, but such jobs as assembly workers, public transit drivers and sanitation workers tend to have employees rewarded merely for their seniority, as it is easy to say yes, they meet quota, or, if they don't, hopefully they're fired. Unfortunately, such jobs tend (in way too many cases) to have the union protect under-performers from termination: this is clearly not right and just, but this absolutely DOES happen. In the US, unions have far more power over such things than they should.

Now, let's compare the realities for software developers and other people involved in the whole process, such as QA and project managers:

1. Rewarding someone by time on the job by itself is a worthless method, because people come in with many different levels of past experience, even in the tasks they're performing in their current role.

2. Not all experience is created equal: some people build experience over many years with several different software projects, while some spend many years on the same one: or, in other words, many people repeat the same year many times over for their experience.

3. Not all learn the lessons they need while going through that time: all other things being equal, a given number of years of experience would have two developers being equal, but the problem is that not all developers are created equal, even if they're working on the same long-term project.

4. Unlike assembly workers or other easily quantified short-term task employees, where training for them is either pass/fail for being able to do the job, software developers have a very wide latitude for how much learning of new skills/technologies they have available to perform their jobs, and perform them well or not. How do you quantify that, along with quality? Years of experience mean nothing: results mean everything, at least if you add other harder to quantify things, like flexibility, which becomes important when times get lean: do you reduce headcount by getting rid of the uni-tasker, or the ones that haven't shown initiative to improve their flexibility? Of course, then you have the question: those that aren't broad, are they deep, or not, and how valuable is that to the team/organization?

5. How, exactly, do you measure productivity of software development teams (QA and project/product managers included) from one project to the next, when there's often cases of things the developers haven't done before, because they're creating new things? Do you go by how many features they've completed, when not all features are as complex to implement and test, and they don't take a predictable amount of time to implement, even if they are relatively simple? Do you quantify by the number of lines of code, even though one developer may get something written in 10 lines where another one takes 100 lines? Do you do it by the number of defects found, where reality is that defects often remain hidden for long periods, even to the end of a product's lifespan, and those on the QA side of the fence are of varying ability? How about the fact that there's almost always never enough time to do full, ideal testing before shipping, as eventually, a version must get out the door? What about number of hours a developer puts in per week, when a lot of hours are often wasted in various ways?

Unions, if used correctly, can be a good thing, but I argue that, at least in creative professions that aren't so easily quantified, they're of limited utility, because workers are usually more flexible in whom they work for, combined with all those other factors mentioned, and others, too, making collective bargaining for such things as wages, and job security (HA!) a rather difficult thing to make sense, because those that are motivated tend to get screwed over by those that aren't, because those that aren't want to have the same pay for not as much work, and will make it much harder for the productive ones to get the credit they deserve, if only by being the weakest link in a team. In developed countries, at least, typical employment laws already address all the things that matter, which sets a known-good starting playing field: unions are unnecessary where employers aren't royally screwing employees, and way too often, unions become as onerous of entities as the companies they work with and against. Oh, and BTW, unions were a huge part of the existence of workers and employers where I grew up, along with extended family members, family friends and neighbors being in them, like it or not (and generally, where there's a union, either you join the union and pay their dues, or you don't work: so much for personal incentive!) as I come originally from the Detroit, Michigan area, where there's now not so many big American car companies and their suppliers as there used to be, and crime families tend to be heavily involved in the whole racket, as they're in the whole thing for the dues they collect from union workers, and the companies are really screwed if the unions decide to strike long enough, regardless of the validity of demands made by the unions, but it's evident you have no experience in seeing that, or you wouldn't have spouted so much ignorance about how unions can be and are in many places and industries. Unions often start out and do good things, but most often outlive that good phase, and get in the way later on.

Reply Score: 2

Thanks
by shaunehunter on Fri 9th Apr 2010 01:57 UTC in reply to "RE: I call B.S."
shaunehunter Member since:
2007-02-12

for childishly insulting me and vastly expanding an argument that was irrelevant to the original story while not adding any real information to your argument. What made you decide to argue against unions from a software development perspective anyway?

Simply being long winded doesn't score any points buddy.

I'm not responding to you further.

P.S. Me reed aslo rite much good ingillish yoo need many scool.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Right on!
by FunkyELF on Wed 7th Apr 2010 19:04 UTC in reply to "Right on!"
FunkyELF Member since:
2006-07-26

A strong union movement is what the developing world needs. Before anyone argues, that's how we in the western world got to be treated like "people" by our employers.


Yeah, just look at Detroit. They're doing great. Once these guys unionize and get paid $40 an hour to put 4 screws on widgets all day long who will they outsource to?

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Right on!
by JAlexoid on Thu 8th Apr 2010 00:16 UTC in reply to "RE: Right on!"
JAlexoid Member since:
2009-05-19

Yeah, just look at Detroit. They're doing great. Once these guys unionize and get paid $40 an hour to put 4 screws on widgets all day long who will they outsource to?

Oh please! Your sarcasm is baseless. VW, Peugeot and a bunch of others' factory workers probably get the same amount or even more, but those are doing quite well. It's only US car makers that are having these problems.

Keep in mind, that trade unions aren't even doing anything to control the companies, though those trade unions are the BIGGEST shareholders(after the US govt now).

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Right on!
by Radio on Thu 8th Apr 2010 11:49 UTC in reply to "RE: Right on!"
Radio Member since:
2009-06-20

"SOCIOLISIM! IT WILL KILL US ALL!"

Reply Score: 1

v Great!!!!
by kiki86 on Wed 7th Apr 2010 14:09 UTC
If YoungFast is so bad an employer...
by james_parker on Wed 7th Apr 2010 20:49 UTC
james_parker
Member since:
2005-06-29

... then why don't the employees simply find jobs somewhere else? The unemployment rate in Taiwan is currently reported as 5.65% and falling.

Reply Score: 1

Radio Member since:
2009-06-20

Because when you're an unqualified worker, you are not well-considered enough -hell, you're not even self-confident enough- to find a new job ASAP, especially given you are already so badly paid you couldn't save money. "they were told by the company management that they weren’t educated enough to have a union to speak for them"

Moreover, unemployment rates aren't the same for all levels of education.

Reply Score: 1

james_parker Member since:
2005-06-29

Because when you're an unqualified worker, you are not well-considered enough -hell, you're not even self-confident enough- to find a new job ASAP, especially given you are already so badly paid you couldn't save money. "they were told by the company management that they weren’t educated enough to have a union to speak for them"


If the workers in general begin unqualified, performing the job for some period of time enables them to become qualified. This is a common way to improve one's skill set, and is an additional form of compensation.

As for confidence, it appears that many of them are not passively accepting their management's claim that they are insufficiently educated to do anything (in fact, there is nothing stopping them from forming a union, although there is no guarantee that YoungFast's management would choose to do business with it).

Moreover, unemployment rates aren't the same for all levels of education.


True; however since there tend to be far more people at the lower lower education levels than higher, the rate at that level is likely to be relatively close to the average (and the rate for the few at higher levels much less).

These employees time would be used more effectively in increasing their individual skill sets than harassing customers of their employer -- the latter tends to be counterproductive, as it is likely to reduce the employer's customer base (and hence motivation to retain employees).

Reply Score: 1

Comment from Taiwan
by jclark on Thu 8th Apr 2010 13:58 UTC
jclark
Member since:
2009-03-06

First of all, the protest was not related to HTC, but another company called YoungFast that supplies touch screen parts to HTC and other companies.

The salary they receive (~1,000 USD per month) as a factory worker is reasonable for that line of work. Many factory workers here are foreigners from south east Asia and get paid about 600 - 700 USD per month.

After reading more local news on this the main issues seems to be that the factory workers feel they are being unfairly treated with "high pressure management" and a fair bit of overtime in order to meet the increased demand recently. They feel that others with more qualified positions in the company have benefited from the increased business but the factory workers haven't benefited and have just had increased work load.

As with the rest of the world, the economic situation isn't good and unemployment is high. Still, unemployment is much lower than countries like the US partly because people are willing to accept lower salaries and longer work hours.

Keep in mind working conditions here including in Youngfast are still quite a bit better than in factories in China, where most of the world's consumer goods are made.

Reply Score: 1