Close to 2,000 workers and labor rights advocates yesterday bombarded Ketaglan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office with eggs while tussling with police as they protested against low wages, unfair labor policies, rising prices and a growing labor insurance deficit.
Despite attempts from the police to calm the crowd, the angry workers — mobilized by various labor organizations, including the Labor Party, Taiwan International Workers’ Association (TIWA), Raged Citizens Act Now and unions from across the country — threw eggs in the direction of the Presidential Office, though they were kept 300m away from the building itself by a line of police.
“Down with the government! Taiwan is finished!” they chanted as they threw eggs across the police line.
Photo Wang Min-wei, Taipei Times
Failing to stop the crowd, hundreds of police officers in riot gear could do nothing but stand behind two large nets and hold their shields high to prevent eggs from hitting them.
Occasionally, officers would advance from behind the police line, trying to arrest protesters who threw more dangerous items, such as smoke bombs, but they were quickly surrounded by the crowd, trying to rescue their fellow protesters, sparking clashes between the two sides.
The demonstration was held in response to several developments affecting labor rights, including the Cabinet’s decision to only partially agree to the Council of Labor Affairs’ proposal to raise the legal minimum wage, the Cabinet’s plan to relax restrictions on hiring foreign laborers and its mulling having separate minimum wages for domestic and foreign workers.
Photo Wang Min-wei, Taipei Times
It also follows the news that the labor insurance system could go broke within two decades and that the government was considering increasing premiums for those who are working, but cutting payments to retired workers.
“President Ma Ying-jeou [馬英九] said that he would work to revive the economy, but when we look at the policies that the government came up with, it’s not hard to realize that they are not working to revive the economy for all, they only work for the benefit of the few,” Taipei City Confederation of Trade Unions secretary-general Chiang Wan-chin (蔣萬金) told the crowd. “They are working for the benefit of big corporations and the wealthy.”
Chiang said that one of the measures that the government was mulling was the relaxation of restrictions on the number of foreign workers that a business may hire.
“This is going to help the big corporations because they can cut costs by hiring more foreign workers and laying off domestic workers,” he said.
TIWA secretary-general Chen Hsiu-lien (陳秀蓮) criticized the government’s proposal to have separate minimum wages for foreign workers and domestic workers.
“If an employer could hire a foreign worker for NT$15,000 a month, why would he or she hire a domestic worker for NT$35,000?” Chen asked.
Chen said that decades ago, big businesses threatened to move their production units overseas unless the government agreed to allow them to import foreign workers, but despite being allowed to hire foreign workers, they still moved their production overseas anyway.
“They are playing the same game again now, we should not be deceived again,” she said.
ON ALERT: A woman who tested positive for COVID-19 while abroad last year tested negative twice in Taiwan before showing a positive result on Sunday, the center said The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported two locally transmitted COVID-19 infections, four imported cases and no deaths. The CECC meanwhile warned nearly 500 people to monitor their health after a woman tested postive. The center also reported that a previous local case — a female worker at Taoyuan International Airport Services (桃園航勤), who had the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 — likely contracted the disease from the same source as a previous imported case from Turkey. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that the two local cases were reported in Taipei, and are a
The Lithuanian Ministry of National Defense recommended that consumers avoid buying Chinese mobile phones and advised people to throw away the ones they have now after a government report found the devices had built-in censorship capabilities. Flagship phones sold in Europe by China’s smartphone giant Xiaomi Corp (小米) have a built-in ability to detect and censor terms such as “Free Tibet,” “Long live Taiwan independence” or “democracy movement,” Lithuania’s state-run cybersecurity body said on Tuesday. The capability in Xiaomi’s Mi 10T 5G phone software had been turned off for the “European Union region,” but can be turned on remotely at any time,
CLOSED DOORS? The new US rules, which are to be implemented in November, have sparked concern in Taiwan, given its low fully vaccinated coverage rate The US plans to allow entry to most foreign air travelers as long as they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 — while adding a testing requirement for unvaccinated Americans and barring entry for foreigners who have not received shots. The measures announced on Monday by the White House mark the most sweeping change to US travel policies in months, and widen the gap in rules between vaccinated people — who would see restrictions relaxed — and unvaccinated people. The new rules would replace existing bans on foreigners’ travel to the US from certain regions, including Europe. While the move would open the
CLOSE COOPERATION: A House of Representatives bill suggests inviting Taiwan’s navy to participate in the world’s largest international maritime military exercises The US House of Representatives on Thursday passed its annual defense policy bill, which includes provisions recommending that Taiwan be included in next year’s Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC) and enhanced cooperation between Taiwan and the US National Guard. The House approved the US$777.9 billion National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022 in a 316-113 vote. The 1,390-page bill includes three major provisions related to Taiwan under sections 1243, 1247 and 1248. Section 1248 recommends that the US invite Taiwan’s navy to participate in next year’s RIMPAC. Taiwan has never been invited to participate in the event, which is the world’s largest