Dozens of labor representatives and family members of workers who suffered occupational injuries gathered outside the Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) building yesterday to protest what they call the council’s inappropriate injury compensation policies.
Huang Hsiao-ling (黃小陵), secretary-general of the Taiwan Association for Victims of Occupational Injuries and one of the leaders of the protest, said that when an occupational injury occurs, the compensation given to the employee should not be deducted from his or her labor pension payout.
The association said that a retired worker surnamed Lee (李), who had worked in a shipbuilding company, suffered long-term exposure to asbestos fibers, causing him to develop lung mesothelioma, a cancer of the linings of the lung.
Lee’s family spent a year obtaining validation that Lee’s illness had been a result of his occupation, only to be notified by the CLA that Lee’s occupational injury compensation and his labor pension canceled each other out.
The association accompanied family members as they protested in front of the council.
“This is very unfair,” Lee’s son said. “I wish to speak on behalf of our worker friends to protest against the council, that their interpretation [of labor regulations] is unreasonable.”
Article 59 of the Labor Standards Law (勞動基準法) states: “An employer shall pay compensation to a worker who is injured, sick, incapacitated or deceased owing to an occupational accident. But for the amount an employer has already paid as compensation under the provisions of the Labor Insurance Law or other applicable laws or regulations, he may be exempted.”
The association urged the council to amend the law, saying that a labor pension is a form of delayed payment and should not be counted as compensation for work-related injuries.
In response, Department of Labor Standards section chief Chen Hui-min (陳慧敏) said that this particular case involved a worker who did not realize his sickness was connected to his work until many years after his retirement.
The council recognized that the sickness did not void his right to be properly compensated, and would gather academics and experts on the topic and discuss ways of amending the regulations, Chen said.
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