Thu, May 02, 2002 - Page 1 News List

Protesters and Cabinet mark May Day

SLOGANS AND LEGISLATION As the Executive Yuan signed draft amendments to three labor-related laws, demonstrators drew attention to the unemployment rate

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH AFP

Members of labor and student organizations shout slogans during a Labor Day demonstration in front of the Presidential Office yesterday. They protested against the nation's high unemployment rate and demanded a tax deduction from the government.

PHOTO: CHIANG YING-YING, TAIPEI TIMES

Both protests and the Cabinet's approval of labor-related legislation marked Labor Day in Taipei yesterday.

The Executive Yuan signed draft amendments to three labor-related laws protecting local workers from being laid off when participating in labor-union activities or because of involvement in labor-management disputes.

The three laws are the Labor Union Law (工會法), the Settlement of Labor Disputes Law (勞資爭議處理法) and the Collective Agreement Law (團體協約法).

The drafts will proceed to the Legislative Yuan for further review and final approval.

Addressing a press conference after the weekly closed-door Cabinet affairs meeting yesterday morning, Cabinet spokesman Chuang Suo-hang (莊碩漢) quoted Premier Yu Shyi-kun as saying that the approval of the amendments has substantial meaning.

"It creates a more effective negotiation channel between the employer and the employee," Chuang said. "Besides, it's time to make changes."

At about the same time, some 500 laborers and students gathered in front of Yu Shyi-kun's office and threw paper airplanes at the building, bearing written objections to government labor legislation that they claim is anti-worker.

"The government has no solution for the deteriorating unemployment problem," said Labor Rights Association spokesman Tang Shu. "In Taiwan, someone is losing his job every five minutes."

The nation's jobless rate averaged 5.14 percent in the three months to March, up sharply from 3.66 percent a year earlier.

Wearing red hats and white T-shirts, the demonstrators marched through Taipei chanting "workers are victims regardless of who is in power," "workers have no rice to eat" and "protest against unemployment."

The march ended peacefully at noon at the Presidential Office.

To safeguard workers' rights to join or establish labor unions, the draft amendment to the Labor Union Law would forbid an employer from refusing to hire, laying off, demoting, or decreasing the wages of employees simply because they participate in labor union activities, establish a labor union, or assume a position at a labor union. Nor would an employer be allowed to hamper or confine the establishment or activities of such a union.

Violators could face fines of between NT$50,000 and NT$150,000.

Similarly, to protect the rights of employers, the draft amendment to the Labor Union Law would disallow a union or its members from refusing to negotiate with an employer, unless the union could offer an appropriate reason to justify the move.

Violators could face fines of between NT$50,000 and NT$150,000.

To ensure the rights of a worker in a labor dispute, the draft amendment to the Settlement of Labor Disputes Law stipulates that employers can't shut down their business operations or terminate the labor contract of their employees. Nor could employees stage a strike during the course of a labor dispute.

Violators could face fines of as high as NT$600,000 for an employer, NT$300,000 for a labor union and NT$30,000 for a worker.

The draft amendment to the Collective Agreement Law specifies that neither employers nor employees could refuse the other party's request to negotiate, unless they could offer an appropriate reason to justify the move.

Violators could face fines of between NT$50,000 and NT$150,000.

In addition, the party making the request to negotiate would be required to notify the other party of time and place of the negotiation, the subject and possible solutions of the problem and the number of representatives present.

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