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Sat, Nov 25, 2000 - Page 3 News List

Wang wants input on workweek

REDUCED WORKING HOURS The speaker of the Legislative Yuan, Wang Jin-pyng, said that to ensure that any revisions the DPP makes to the workweek laws are not rejected by lawmakers, the party should seek `a harmonious relationship' with the opposition

By Lin Mei-chun  /  STAFF REPORTER

Labor groups demonstrate in front of the Executive Yuan yesterday in support of the 42-hour workweek (or 84 hours per fortnight) plan, which the Executive Yuan would like to scrap in favor of its original 44-hour workweek plan.

PHOTO: CHEN CHENG-CHANG, TAIPEI TIMES

Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) said yesterday that the ruling party should first of all try and communicate with the opposition and labor groups before proceeding to revise the Labor Standards Law, which aims to reverse a bill passed in June in the legislature.

The executive branch is facing a wave of setbacks after it announced on Wednesday that it would submit a bill to the legislature to impose a 44-hour workweek.

The proposal would be a retraction of the legislature's decision, approved on June 16, to reduce the workweek to 84 hours in a two-week period from the current 48-hour workweek.

The measure was set to take effect Jan. 1.

"I understand it is a pressing issue, in terms of the time frame. However, the ruling party should seek communication and understanding from the opposition lawmakers and labor groups before embarking on the revision of the [Labor Standards Law]," Wang said.

"The key is to seek a harmonious relationship between the two sides," Wang said.

Executive can only blame itself if revision rejected

"The Executive Yuan should make adjustments concerning how it deals with controversial issues, otherwise the ruling party can only blame itself if the revision were to be rejected in the Legislative Yuan."

Wang made the statements before his meeting with Secretary-General to the premier Chiou I-jen (邱義仁) and Vice Premier Lai In-jaw (賴英照), who came to the legislature yesterday to talk with Wang in a bid to forge consensus on the issue.

Wang, a vice chairman of the KMT, also made public his party's suggestion that the DPP drop its campaign promise, which says the workweek hours will be shortened to 40 in the year of 2002.

Responding to Wang's suggestion, Chiou said that it was too early to say what would happen in 2002.

"The economic landscape will be different in 2002. It is, therefore, too early to jump to any conclusions as to which policy should be implemented at that time," Chiou said.

Chiou defends premier's policy

In the meantime, Chiou seized the chance to defend Premier Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄) against the criticism that has been aimed over the planned revisions.

Critics have said that the plan is unfair to labor groups and accused Chang of sacrificing the welfare of workers in order to boost the troubled economy and in an attempt to reduce the exodus of industries.

"Since Premier Chang took office, he has come up with up to 15 projects to cope with the financial and economic difficulties, such as lowering the business tax and offering NT$450 billion in loans for small and medium-sized industries. To make an amendment of the Labor Standards Law is just one of these projects," Chiou said.

In addition, Wang made his concern known about the time constraints.

"Industries have to fully prepare themselves for any change in policies," Wang said.

"If agreement cannot be reached by mid-December so that the legislation can be completed by the end of December, it will be impossible to reverse the current regulation -- an 84 hour fortnight," Wang said.

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