The system of job responsibility has been abused by management and exposes workers to the risk of death by overwork, the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) said yesterday.
The party plans to propose amending Article 84-1 of the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法), which lists the system as applicable to several sectors, because the law has failed to protect labor rights, TSU caucus whip Hsu Chung-hsin (許忠信) told a press conference.
The article originally applied only to certain sectors, but the service, medical service and security personnel sectors were later added to the list. However, some sectors not on the list also demand that employees work under the system.
Most companies do not keep records of overtime hours, which makes it difficult to monitor their labor conditions and to levy fines, Hsu said.
The lack of employment puts jobseekers at a disadvantage as they are forced to work overtime without pay and face the threat of family conflict and overwork, the lawmaker said.
The abuse of the system has posed a great threat to workers’ health, as 66 health cases related to overwork were reported between January and September last year, including 34 deaths, Hsu said, adding that the data did not include unreported cases.
The article applied to 40,000 of Taiwan’s 10 million workers in 2010, according to statistics provided by Chen Hui-ling (陳慧玲), chief of the Department of Labor Standards.
The necessity of the article is questionable, since it applies to only a small portion of the total number of workers in the country, Hsu said.
Moreover, he added, the article “has opened a back door for management to legally exploit their employees.”
Citing a survey conducted by a human resource company last year, TSU Legislator Huang Wen-ling (黃文玲) said that 57 percent of workers were forced to agree to the terms of job responsibility on their contracts because they were desperate for employment despite not knowing whether the law applied to their line of work.
The Council of Labor Affairs will study the possibility to scrap or amend the article, Chen said.