Taiwanese Writer Finds Poetry in Laid-off Workers’ Railway Protest

Laid-off factory workers facing a lawsuit from the Taiwanese government over “unpaid debt” protested February 5, 2013 [zh] by lying across the tracks at a Taipei train station, bring traffic to a standstill.

The group of workers, who lost their jobs 16 years ago when many factories fled Taiwan for China and other countries to cut labor costs, received money at the time from the government body in charge of protecting labour rights meant to help them get back on their feet. But last year, that government body, called the Council of Labour Affairs, decided to sue the victims, demanding that they return the so-called “loan”.

Image from BoTh Ali Alone.

Image from BoTh Ali Alone.

Not so many people are sympathetic to the plight of these desperate workers. So, inspired by the latest protest, Taiwanese writer-animator ‘BoTh Ali Alone’ [zh] created an illustration to show his support for these victims of de-industrialization.

BoTh Ali Alone's illustration is accompanied by a poem titled “Lying on the Railway”, which he wrote to describe a demoralized world in which people view other people's misery without any sympathy:


Lying on the Railway


There is an island, where people live in the train since they were born.
The goal of their life is moving ahead along the railway.
They have the tickets for the train,
but they have never seen the world outside.
All the windows are covered by the monitors
that show all the beautiful scenery.


Do not get off the train.
If you get off the train, there is no way to go back.
You will find that
the government keeps building railways,
so the train can go everywhere,
but there is no place on the island worth going anymore,
because there is nothing other than the railways.

— with 需要被支持的人.

For those who cannot afford the ticket,
they try to survive between the railways.
When they are crushed by the train,
those on the train only complain about the jolt.
–with those who need to be supported.

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