Fri, May 02, 2008 - Page 3 News List

Labor activists worried about projects


Representatives from the Labor Rights Association and other groups yesterday hold a rally in front of the Legislative Yuan calling on the new government to protect workers’ rights.


Labor activists voiced concern yesterday that president-elect Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) policies for reviving the economy could rely too heavily on large corporations and that the rights of blue-collar workers may be sacrificed.

“Ma promised to improve the economy and make life easier — we workers deserve a better life too!” Labor Party secretary-general Tang Shu (唐曙) told a crowd of around 100 people from various labor unions who gathered outside the Legislative Yuan.

“It makes us very worried, when we look at Ma’s economic platform,” Tang said. “It seems that Ma is aiming to make life better for corporations but not for workers.”

One of Ma’s “i-Taiwan 12 projects” to boost domestic consumption through infrastructure — turning Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport into an “air city” — was the focus of particular criticism.

The proposal would make the airport a special administrative zone and surrounding areas would be managed by an independent administration run by a board of directors.

The board would be authorized to plan the special zone’s development, manage the airport facilities — which are now under the jurisdiction of the Civil Aeronautics Administration — and invest in transportation and other industries.

Businesses operating in the zone would enjoy special tax breaks.

In addition to the airport, Ma also plans to establish a free-trade port nearby as part of the project.

Labor Rights Association executive director Wang Chuan-ping (王娟萍) said the project may sound ambitious, but it is a potential nightmare as far as workers rights are concerned.

Proposed legislation governing the special administrative zone would exempt it from Labor Standard Law (勞動基準法) regulations on the employment and treatment of foreign workers.

“It not only means that these [foreign] workers will have less protection [of rights], it also means that local workers will be less competitive,” Wang said.

The activists are also concerned that outsourcing could increase under Ma’s platform to boost economic links with China.

“We don’t mind developing cross-strait economic and trade relations, but workers rights should be the top consideration during the decision-making process,” Tang said.

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