Wed, Jan 13, 2010 - Page 3 News List

Labor groups protest amendment

By Shelley Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Labor union members from around Taiwan protest against proposed amendments to the Labor Union Act in front of the Legislative Yuan yesterday. The banner reads: “Martial law: No! Autonomy: Yes!”

PHOTO: CNA

Dozens of labor representatives gathered in front of the legislature yesterday to protest a proposed amendment to the Labor Union Act (工會法).

Groups including the National Federation of Independent Trade Unions (NAFITU), the Taiwan Confederation of Trade Unions and numerous local union groups protested against amendments that they say would harm unions. If their demands are not met and the legislature passes the amendments to the Act, they promised to throw cow dung at the Legislative Yuan building.

NAFITU president Chu Wei-li (朱維立) said unions opposed the proposed amendments because they would grant the Council of Labor Affairs the power to suspend union activities and fire union officials over union activities the council considered illegal.

“Our nation’s lawmakers should not become tools of the administration and capitalists to get what they want at the expense of going against public opinion,” Chu said.

The groups also expressed skepticism about a clause in the amendments that would set minimum levels on union membership fees, saying it would lessen workers’ willingness to join unions thereby decreasing their influence and negotiating power.

They called the proposed revisions the “Martial Law of Labor Union Act,” which would suppress unions rather than empowering them.

The amendments also propose removing a clause in the act that makes membership mandatory for industries and firms with unions.

The activists said that removal of the mandatory membership clause would destroy the unions and labor rights movements.

The dung plan emulates a similar protest on Dec. 30 outside the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) headquarters.

Calling for adoption of the union groups’ proposed version of the amendment rather than that proposed by the KMT caucus, the labor groups threw cow dung at a line of police guarding the headquarters.

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