Thu, Jul 15, 2010 - Page 2 News List

Union activists protest proposed labor changes

TEMPS GALOREGovernment statistics showed that the number of Taiwanese workers on short-term and temporary contracts reached 687,000 in May last year

BY SHELLEY HUANG  /  STAFF REPORTER

The National Federation of Independent Trade Unions yesterday led labor representatives in a protest against the Council of Labor Affairs’ (CLA) proposed changes to the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法) involving contract and temporary employees.

The council yesterday held one of several hearings to gather opinions on the proposed amendments to the act, which would include regulations and restrictions on businesses’ and hiring agencies’ use of contract and temporary workers.

However, more than half of the union and labor representatives invited to the meeting refused to attend to show their opposition to the proposed changes. Those who did attend said they came to voice their opposition.

The protesters set up a rope to block the front of the CLA building with a sign that read “Contract Labor Stops Here” to symbolize their unwillingness to support the council’s proposal to legalize non-standard employment relations such as contract and temporary work.

The groups called for laws to completely abolish the contract work system.

“The CLA’s loosening of restrictions on contract work invites suspicion that the proposed amendments were made to benefit temp agencies,” Confederation of Taiwan Trade Unions chairman Chiang Wan-king (蔣萬金) said.

The council’s list of industries that are not permitted to use contract labor means that all other companies can legally hire contract workers, which would result in a large increase in such non-standard employment across a wide variety of industries and sectors and cause more labor exploitation, Chiang said.

Government statistics showed that the number of Taiwanese workers on short-term and temporary contracts reached 687,000 in May last year, a significant increase from 130,000 in 2003 and 60,000 in 1996.

In response, the council said yesterday that because the country’s labor laws strictly prohibit hiring agencies from signing fixed-term contracts with workers, contract workers would not lose their jobs with the hiring agency once their term contracts have expired

The council said that it would continue to hold hearings to gather opinion and reach consensus on amending labor rules.

The council’s proposed changes include capping the percentage of a company’s contract workforce at 3 percent. However, a company would still be able to hire contract workers to make up 20 percent of its total workforce provided it receives union approval and a majority of employees are union members.

The proposed changes would also prohibit hiring contract workers in certain industries, such as the medical, security, airline, marine, public transportation and coal mining industries.

The proposal came after the Control Yuan censored the council for what it said was a failure to adequately regulate the temporary and contract labor market and crack down on hiring agencies that violate labor rules.

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