Premier Mao Chi-kuo’s (毛治國) proposal to grant paid leave to civil servants who are the immediate relatives of victims of the Formosa Fun Coast (八仙海岸) fire, and the Executive Yuan’s Directorate-General of Personnel Administration’s (DGPA) confirmation yesterday of the measure’s legality, have prompted debate about the fairness and appropriateness of the government’s actions.
The DGPA yesterday said that civil servants who are the immediate relatives of victims are entitled to 15 days of paid leave in accordance with the Operation Regulations on the Suspension of Offices and Classes in times of Natural Disasters (天然災害停止上班及上課作業辦法).
Including the five days of paid family care leave granted by the regulations on civil servants’ leave of absence, civil servants with immediate relatives injured in the water park dust explosion and resulting fire are entitled to a total of 20 days paid leave, the agency said.
Photo: Chang Chia-ming, Taipei Times
Thirty-five victims’ families would benefit from the measure, according to the agency.
Critics said the ruling is unfair on victims’ relatives who are not civil servants, especially given that the benefit has come about through revisions to the Operation Regulations that were promulgated by the Executive Yuan on June 29.
The revised regulations added nuclear accidents and other man-made disasters to the reasons for the suspension of classes and businesses, and other related measures.
The DGPA later released a statement saying that the amendments to the regulations were not made in response to the water park fire, but had been discussed for at least six months.
“The amendments were approved by the Executive Yuan in the middle of last month and were promulgated on Monday last week, and are therefore not related to the fire, which happened on June 27,” the statement said.
After cross-party negotiations, convened by Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), on measures the government should take in response to the fire, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chao Tien-lin (趙天麟) said that he called on the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the Ministry of Labor — following a precedent set earlier for the prevention of dengue fever, in which an administrative rule was provisionally issued before an amendment to the related law was made — to discuss the possibility of all workers who are family members of victims to take paid leave.
“This is a move to mitigate the possible sense of relative deprivation among workers,” Chao said.
However, Minister of Labor Chen Hsiung-wen (陳雄文) yesterday said that asking employees without relatives involved in the fire to shoulder the burden of depleted workforces would cause controversy.
Employees are entitled to 14 days of unpaid leave according to the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法), Chen said, adding that it was not enough.
Meanwhile, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday called a national security meeting in relation to the water park disaster, to discuss four principles: Saving lives at any cost; establishing a plan to guarantee long-term and one-on-one follow-up treatment for victims;, incorporating the efforts of central and local governments; and deciding who is ultimately responsible for the accident.
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