Thu, Dec 31, 2009 - Page 2 News List

Labor groups take aim at KMT

DIRTY TRICK Protesters flung cow dung at police standing behind shields after President Ma and other KMT officials failed to come out to talk to them

By Mo Yan-chih and Shelley Huang  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Protesters enact a skit portraying the government as incompetent outside the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) headquarters in Taipei City yesterday afternoon. The protesters were from labor unions from all over Taiwan. The labels on the figure read “human rights,” “democracy” and “labor unions.”

PHOTO: WANG YI-SUNG, TAIPEI TIMES

Shouting “incompetent government,” several hundred members of 10 labor unions yesterday threw cow dung and clashed with police during a protest in front of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) headquarters as they urged President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to review a proposed amendment to the Labor Union Law (工會法).

The protesters said they would never agree to the KMT caucus’ proposed version of the amendment, which suggests the government has the authority to disband unions.

“We demand the government adopt the union’s version of the amendment. We want President Ma to come out and talk to us,” group leader Chu Wei-li (朱維立) said.

The union members also urged the government to carry out its promise of giving unions more authority over labor affairs and allowing them to supervise their own finances.

Ma, who arrived at KMT headquarters at about 2pm to preside over the KMT Central Standing Committee as party chairman, did not meet the demonstrators.

Failing to receive any response from Ma or other KMT officials, the protesters threw cow dung at the police, who stood behind barricades and shields. The police later held four protest leaders for questioning after they failed to stop the dung attack.

Shouting “Release our members,” the protesters later clashed with police as they tried to enter KMT headquarters and did not disperse until after Ma left the building.

Meanwhile, at a separate setting yesterday, representatives from civic groups criticized the government for what they said had been a year of empty promises and ineffective policies.

Representatives from a labor group, a teachers association and a banking union said this year could best be represented by the character “empty” (空), signifying a year of empty election promises on the part of the president and the loss of hope that the government would help struggling workers.

“The government has not sincerely followed up on promises that were made during the election campaign,” said Son Yu-lian (孫友聯), secretary-general of the Taiwan Labor Front. “The result is that workers on the bottom rung of the ladder can barely feel the economic recovery that is being reported in the media.”

Despite promises of stronger GDP growth and higher income per capita, this year has seen unemployment rates reach new highs, Son said.

Liu Chin-hsu (劉欽旭), secretary-general of the National Teachers’ Association, said Ma had promised to place labor-related course material on the public school curriculum, but a year had passed with no progress.

The civic groups gave the Ma administration a failing grade and said it needed to “retake the exam.”

They also said May 1 was the deadline for the “retake,” and if no significant improvement is made, the groups will take to the streets on May 20 to mark Ma’s second year in office.

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