Tue, Nov 14, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Poll finds support for labor revisions

SILENT MAJORITY:Unlike very vocal labor unions, the survey expresses the voices of employees and small business owners who did not speak out, a DPP lawmaker said

By Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter

Taiwan Style Foundation chairman Wang Zhin-sheng, right, presents the results of the foundation’s opinion poll on the Cabinet’s draft amendments to the Labor Standards Act at a news conference in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times

More than 60 percent of the respondents to an opinion poll approved the Cabinet’s draft amendments to the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法), the Taiwan Style Foundation said yesterday.

Following repeated calls for changes since the implementation of the “one fixed day off and one flexible rest day” workweek law in December last year, the Cabinet on Thursday put forward draft amendments to relax overtime rules and lower the minimum rest time between shifts.

The government should revise the workweek law, 66.6 percent of respondents said, while 15.3 percent said it should not.

While 61.4 percent approved a proposal to revise a rule stipulating a mandatory day off every seven days to raise the maximum number of consecutive working days to 12 if it is approved by the supervising authority of an industry, the Ministry of Labor and labor unions, 30.7 percent disagreed.

The amendment would raise the maximum overtime hours from 46 to 54 per month, but limits the three-month total at 138 hours, which was approved by 65.7 percent of respondents, but was disapproved by 24.5 percent.

The draft amendment proposes calculating overtime by actual hours worked instead of the current system that entitles workers to four-hour overtime pay for working less than four hours on “rest days.”

The poll found that 71.5 percent of respondents approved of the proposal, while 22.5 percent disapproved.

The proposal would also allow a one-year extension of unused annual leave and for departing employees to receive monetary compensation for unused leave days, which was supported by 84.1 percent of respondents, but opposed by 11.6 percent.

The act stipulates a minimum rest time of 11 hours between shifts, but a proposed amendment would reduce it to eight hours provided employers and employees reach an agreement.

The poll found that 52.2 percent of respondents approved of the reduction, while 38.5 percent disapproved.

According to the survey, 68.3 percent of respondents approved of the draft amendments as a whole, while 23.6 percent disapproved.

While the proposed amendments have sparked a backlash among labor groups and netizens, Taiwan Style Foundation board director Wang Zhin-sheng (王智盛) said the respondents included a variety of professionals, such as employers and employees, civil servants, and part-time and full-time workers, adding that regardless of their identity, there is a more than 50 percent support for the proposed changes across occupational categories.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政) said the complaints from labor unions represent only 6 percent of the workforce, as Taiwan mainly consists of small and medium-sized enterprises where there is no union.

“The poll expresses the voices of employees and small business owners who did not speak out,” Lo said. “The results did not come as much of a surprise, as the [workweek] law, following a year of implementation, has proven to be problematic and people feel the need to revise it.”

Meanwhile, 52.3 percent of respondents said that former president Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration is more responsible than President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) for the scandals and potential illegality of a navy minesweeper contract awarded to Ching Fu Shipbuilding Co (慶富造船) in 2014, while 19.1 percent said Tsai’s administration is more responsible.

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