A system of flexible working hours, as proposed by a group of business leaders to President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) earlier this week, would have a negative impact on workers’ lives, several labor groups said yesterday.
Their remark was a response to a suggestion to Ma by the business community that authorities scrap the current -working-hour cap of 84 hours over two weeks and adopt a “flexitime” system.
The business leaders said that this would give employers more flexibility in arranging human resources and working hours based on market demand.
However, if such a system was adopted, employees might have to work unpredictable schedules and long hours whenever the workload was heavy, the labor groups — the Taiwan Labor Front, the Taiwan Women’s Link and the Taiwan Confederation of Trade Unions (TCTU) — said at a joint press conference in Taipei.
Moreover, a flexitime system would give employers a reason not to pay workers overtime, TCTU secretary-general Hsieh Chuang-chih (謝創智) said. He added that long hours would increase the likelihood of accidents, as well as possibly damage family relationships.
In defense of their proposal, the business leaders said that flexitime is widely used in Germany.
However, Hsieh rebutted the point, saying that Germany has many different systems and if Taiwan wanted to learn from the European nation then it should learn about the whole package.
Hsieh added that Germany has a powerful labor union, unlike Taiwan, where labor--management relations tend to benefit employers.
The proposed system would have the greatest impact on female workers, said Tsai Wan-fen (蔡宛芬), secretary-general of the Taiwan Women’s Link. Such a situation with women working longer hours would only make Taiwan’s low birthrate an even more difficult issue to resolve, she said.
Son Yu-lian (孫友聯), head of the Taiwan Labor Front, urged the government to listen to workers’ voices and not just those in the business community.