Tue, Dec 05, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Labor bill prompts scuffles inside and out

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

Members of labor rights groups scuffle with the police yesterday outside the Legislative Yuan in Taipei during a protest against proposed amendments to the Labor Standards Act.

Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times

Scuffles broke out among lawmakers yesterday at a meeting of the legislature’s Economics Committee and Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee, as they began reviewing proposed amendments to the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法).

The review, which was scheduled to start at 9am, did not begin until after 11am. Later, a motion to extend the review to midnight was passed.

New Power Party (NPP) and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers tried to boycott the review by disputing the time limit for each lawmaker’s speech, but dissenters were forcibly carried away from the podium by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) members.

DPP Legislator Lin Shu-fen (林淑芬) tendered a motion to amend articles 32, 34 and 36 of the act.

The Cabinet’s draft bill would amend Article 32 to cap an employee’s working hours at 138 hours every three months, while Lin proposed that it be changed to 138 hours for three “consecutive” months.

As for Article 34, the Cabinet’s version would require at least 11 hours of rest between shifts, which could be shortened to eight hours if employers and employees reach a consensus.

While the Cabinet plans to loosen the “one rest day” rule by amending Article 36, Lin proposed maintaining the version that was passed in December last year.

A motion tendered by DPP Legislator Chiu Chih-wei (邱志偉) to limit each lawmaker’s speech to six minutes — four plus two — was passed with the support of DPP lawmakers.

Opposition parties continued to try to delay the review by extending their speeches as long as possible, while disputing the time limit.

The ruling party should have stuck to its past position, NPP Legislator Kawlo Iyun Pacidal said, citing a protest in 2014 by DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) against the three-minute time limit during a legislative review of a draft of the special regulations for free economic pilot zones (自由經濟示範區特別條例).

DPP lawmakers are replicating the political injustices that were ruled out by the nation’s voters, NPP caucus convener Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明) said.

Amid intermittent scuffles between legislators of various parties, DPP Legislator Lin Ching-yi (林靜儀), who chaired the meeting, ordered an end to discussions on articles 24 and 32, and pushed them to a cross-caucus negotiation.

Meanwhile, hundreds of people gathered outside the Legislative Yuan in Taipei to protest against the Cabinet’s draft amendment.

Barricades were on Sunday placed outside the legislative compound, while about 700 police officers were deployed to block off the area and form a human wall in front of protesters on Jinan Road.

At 11am, protesters tried to storm the compound, hurled eggs at the legislative building and scuffled with police, while clashes broke out as a result of two failed attempts to breach the police cordon.

The protest was still ongoing as of press time last night.

Additional reporting by CNA

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