Fri, Jan 21, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Labor law changes draw flak

DISSENT Demonstrators gathered outside the Legislative Yuan while lawmakers were discussing the amendments, which have been denounced as a threat to workers' rights

By Cody Yiu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Representatives of labor groups yesterday morning gathered outside the Legislative Yuan to protest proposed amendments to three labor-related laws

The demonstrators gathered outside the building at 10am while lawmakers were negotiating about proposed amendments to the Labor Union Law (工會法), the Settlement of Labor Disputes Law (勞資爭議處理法) and the Collective Agreement Law (團體協約法).

"If the amendments are passed, millions of workers and their labor unions will have no bargaining power against employers during labor disputes," said Ho Yen-tang (何燕堂), spokesman for the Committee for Action on Labor Legislation.

The demonstrators performed a skit mocking attempts by Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) Chairwoman Chen Chu (陳菊) and the Executive Yuan to push amendments which undermine the rights of labor unions and workers through the legislature.

Labor groups said the amendments proposed by the CLA pose the greatest threat to workers' rights.

Ho said that the amendments would restrict workers' rights more than the existing laws do.

In two of the draft versions, amendments to article 51 of the Settlement of Labor Disputes Law would restrict the rights of certain workers to strike, including employees of the Ministry of Defense and of utility companies, as well as air traffic controllers, teachers and military personnel.

"To government officials, the term `strike' is defined as employees refusing to provide services temporarily," Ho said, adding that the amendments curb employees' right to strike even if they have been laid off or if their employers fail to pay their wages.

The amendments also bar labor unions from participating in political activities and grant the government the right to determine who is allowed to join a labor union.

Kao Wei-kai (高偉凱), a labor rights representative based in Taoyuan and Hsinchu, said workers' right to organize demonstrations would also be restricted should the amendments be passed.

The Taiwan Confederation of Trade Unions also held a demonstration yesterday afternoon to promote its version of the proposed amendments, which would grant all workers the right to strike and hold demonstrations while guaranteeing the autonomy of labor unions.

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