Someone dies from overwork in Taiwan nearly once a week, according to lawmakers quoted by the Taipei Times today. The story reads:
Labor statistics are alarming, with the average wages of Taiwanese workers on the same level they were in 1999 and two workers dying from overwork every 15 days on average, DPP Legislator Pan Men-an (潘孟安) told a press conference.
If this is indeed true, which I have no reason to believe it is not, the fact that someone would literally work themself to death is just beyond me.
A light has got to go off in your head. You must think to yourself, “Jesus, I am exhausted.” The only logical thought to follow would be, “Screw this job. I’m going home.” Right?
How exactly do you work so hard that you actually drop dead? Is it bad that I don’t know this? Not to make light of these tragedies, but should I be ashamed that I don’t work this hard? I feel like I have worked pretty hard at times.
I suppose I am lucky to have never had things go so awfully awry in my life that I was forced into the realization that I either work until I die or die anyway from not working. That is some serious shit, right there.
But I have to say this. Again, not to to sound callous in light of this terrible statistic, but some of this comes from a legitimate lack of backbone over here. I’ve mentioned it before, but to repeat: Chinese/Taiwanese bosses treat employees like possessions to maximize and then dispose of.
There’s no two ways around that.
Did it surprise me when more than 70% of business owners said they would not raise wages to help with inflation? No. It surprised me that 30% said they might.
As a teacher here, I’ve long gotten used to being treated like a circus attraction… “Quick! Here come the parents… DANCE, WHITEY, DANCE!”
But I don’t even want to talk about “teaching” in Taiwan. This is something that extends across all jobs: people allowing bosses treat them like shit.
I used to know a girl who worked the front desk at some beauty salon. Her male boss used to call her up at all hours of the night, drunk, harassing her for dates. Did she quit? No.
I knew another girl working a similar job whose boss used to tell her she had to come on golf outings with him so he could impress his friends. Did she quit? No.
In Shanghai, I once worked 10-12 hour shifts for more than a month straight. Every day. No days off. The company didn’t give me jack for pay or any type of bonus. I could have made more that month working at a McDonald’s. Did I quit? Well, sort of– haha. I didn’t resign the following month.
So, if you’re planning on working in Asia, expect to be working plenty of unpaid overtime. Saturday mornings. Evenings. Your wedding day. Whenever. If your boss wants you there, you better make it snappy.
I’m not trying to sound lazy. I don’t mind working overtime. I don’t even mind working unpaid overtime. But here’s the deal: I need to feel like my effort is being recognized and respected. If you ask me to come into work two hours early, work through my lunch break, but then refuse to let me leave ten minutes before I am supposed to normally clock out? Well, in my book, that makes you an asshole, boss.
And to be honest, the rest of the statistics in this morbid article don’t get much better for us working class Wangs.