The latest figures from the Council of Labor Affairs show that since it launched a program to help workers resolve legal issues involving labor-management disputes, a total of NT$260 million (US$8 million) has been paid in worker compensation.
In March last year, when factory closures spurred by the global economic downturn caused the number of labor disputes to spike, the council teamed up with the Legal Aid Foundation, which has 20 offices across the nation, to launch the Legal Aid for Labor Litigation scheme. The program provides legal counseling and assistance to workers who are having difficulty resolving work-related issues with their employers, such as severance pay, labor contract terms and conditions, unpaid salaries or benefits, sub-standard work environments and many others.
Since the launch of the program, 3,748 workers have received legal assistance to resolve labor disputes with employers and 1,421 cases have already been resolved and closed, Council of Labor Affairs Minister Jennifer Wang (王如玄) said.
About 80 percent of the cases resulted in favorable outcomes for the workers, who have received a total of NT$260 million in compensation, she said.
Wang said the purpose of providing legal assistance to workers is not to cause tension between employers and workers, but to give workers more negotiating power to reach a consensus more favorable to them. Workers may otherwise be at a disadvantage because they cannot match the resources available to corporations to hire lawyers.
The program provides a subsidy of up to NT$60,000 in each instance for single litigation and up to NT$200,000 for class action suits. Labor disputes about unpaid salaries, illegal layoffs, inadequate labor insurance and uncompensated job hazards can all be submitted. The foundation will evaluate each case to determine whether the plaintiff is eligible for legal aid.
However, labor contract disputes involving foreign caregivers and household assistants will not be subsidized by the program as they are not protected by the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法), the council said.
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