Tue, Aug 22, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Survey reveals substantial labor discontent

NOT GOOD ENOUGH The results of a recent survey of labor groups nationwide make uncomfortable reading for the government, with high levels of dissatisfaction revealed

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taiwan Solidarity Union Legislator Ho Min-hao presents a chart showing that the government's labor policies only rated 41.19 out of 100 based on a survey in a presentation at the legislature yesterday.

PHOTO: CHANG CHIA-MING, TAIPEI TIMES

The government's labor policies over the past six years have failed, according to a survey released by the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) caucus yesterday.

The TSU surveyed 100 labor unions and organizations across the nation recently receiving 43 responses.

One of the survey questions asked how satisfied labor groups were concerning the six workers' rights guarantees made by President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) during the 2004 presidential election.

The groups were asked to rate the government's performance on a scale of 1 to 100, with 100 meaning "perfectly satisfied." The government scored a mere 41.19, according to the caucus.

The six promises that Chen made were that the government would lower the unemployment rate to 4 percent, protect local workers and ban the employment of laborers from China, provide every worker with NT$20,000 (US$606) as a training subsidy, establish a comprehensive pension system to ensure every worker can lead a comfortable life after retirement, safeguard workers' safety and reduce the occupational injury rate and incorporate labor regulations into the Constitution.

Up to 91 percent of the surveyed said they were dissatisfied with government measures to safeguard labor rights over the past six years, the TSU said.

"This is a warning for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which has always considered itself an advocate for the middle class and the disadvantaged working class," TSU Legislator Ho Min-hao (何敏豪) said at a press conference.

He said 74 percent of the interviewees thought there had been a serious degeneration of labor rights since the DPP came to power.

More than 90 percent of the surveyed complained about the government's foreign labor policies and about 70 percent of them felt discontent about the country's human rights protection of migrant workers, he added.

Some 87 percent of the respondents said they did not believe workers' rights issues were effectively discussed at the recent Conference on Sustaining Taiwan's Economic Development, the caucus said.

Additionally, 75 percent of the interviewees said the current labor pension system does not conform to social justice, according to the survey.

Only 16 percent of the interviewees agreed that the unemployment subsidy meets the needs of unemployed workers and their families, the poll showed.

Most of the respondents said the problem of unemployment among the middle-aged and elderly and lowering the overall unemployment rate should be prioritized for the remainder of the government's term in office, Ho said.

TSU Legislator Lo Chih-ming (羅志明) said although the caucus only received 43 responses from labor unions and organizations, "the survey's results are an expression of the opinions of the leaders of Taiwan's labor groups and should be taken seriously."

Workers are facing great uncertainty because of unemployment problems, he said, adding that they suffered hardship because wages had failed to keep pace with rising prices.

Deputy Minister of Labor Affairs Su Li-chiung (蘇麗瓊), who was also present at the conference, said that she was not surprised by the results of the survey because labor groups took a more critical perspective when responding to the investigation.

She said that the TSU's statistics were different from the council's, adding that labor regulations had improved a lot since 2000.

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