Sat, Nov 18, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Scuffles break out as labor bill reviewed by legislators

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

Democratic Progressive Party and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators push and shove each other at the speaker’s bench in the Legislative Yuan in Taipei yesterday during a clause-by-clause review of amendments to the Labor Standards Act.

Photo: Peter Lo, Taipei Times

The Cabinet’s draft amendment to the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法) yesterday proceeded to committee reviews, despite protests by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislative caucus.

Scuffles broke out in the legislative chamber in Taipei early yesterday when Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators began dragging their KMT colleagues away from the speaker’s podium, which they had occupied ahead of a first session to review the amendments.

KMT legislators Chiang Wan-an (蔣萬安) and Lin Wei-chou (林為洲) spearheaded the boycott, leading several other KMT legislators in shouting the slogan: “No report, no committee reviews.”

They were referring to assessments of the needs of different industries, which they said the Ministry of Labor should have conducted before the Executive Yuan approved the proposed amendment to the act.

The DPP’s heavy-handed approach to the draft amendment showed that it had not learned its lesson after it pushed through initial amendments to the act 11 months ago, Lin said.

He asked whether the DPP intends to change the act again if the new rules spark a backlash among workers or if they prove to be counterproductive to some industries.

The so-called “four flexible measures” in the amendment were designed to benefit employers, Lin said, adding that he could not believe the ministry had the audacity to say that there would be no changes to workers’ rights if the amendment is passed.

“How could workers’ rights remain unchanged when the rule mandating one day off after six days is to be changed to two days off after 12 days and the monthly overtime quota is to be raised from 46 to 54 hours?” Lin asked.

“None of the five draft regulations proposed by the Cabinet will benefit workers,” Chiang said, accusing Premier William Lai (賴清德), who approved the draft amendment, of “lacking empathy.”

The KMT legislators were vastly outnumbered after DPP legislators, who hold the legislative majority, entered the chamber.

DPP Legislator Su Chen-ching (蘇震清) and several others removed Lin from the podium, while DPP Legislator Chung Chia-pin (鍾佳濱) became entangled with Chiang and managed to edge him off the podium.

Chiang made several attempts to climb back onto the podium, which were foiled by DPP legislators, who were at that point in control of the situation, prompting Chiang to shout: “You are all members of the Capitalist Progressive Party.”

Legislative Speaker Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) appeared unfazed while presiding over the session, during which all motions tendered by the KMT to return the draft amendment to the Procedure Committee for further deliberation were voted down.

The draft amendment advanced to committee reviews in its entirety.

In other developments, the legislature approved the Executive Yuan’s nomination of National Central University law professor Chen In-chin (陳英鈐) as the new Central Election Commission (CEC) chairman.

Makeshift polling stations were set up in the legislative chamber in the afternoon for legislators to exercise their right of investiture.

Among the 72 legislators who cast ballots, 70 were in favor of the appointment, while two cast spoiled votes.

Nominee CEC deputy chairman Chen Chao-chien (陳朝建), and nominee CEC members Chou Chih-hung (周志宏), Tsai Chia-hung (蔡佳泓), Hsu Hui-feng (許惠峰) and Lin Chiung-chu (林瓊珠) were also approved.

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