Thu, Apr 26, 2012 - Page 2 News List

Labor activists protest at steep rise in cost of living

STAGNANT SALARIES:One group demanded a salary increase, gender equality in wages and an end to the use of day laborers as well as contract workers

Staff writer, with CNA

Activists from the Labor Rights Association and other labor rights groups protest against stagnant salaries and the rising cost of living outside the Council of Labor Affairs in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Liu Hsin-de, Taipei Times

Labor rights activists protested yesterday outside the Council of Labor Affairs against stagnant salaries and the rising cost of living, announcing that a larger rally is planned for Tuesday, which is Labor Day.

The protesters performed a skit in which a hapless citizen was shot in the heart by black-and-white arrows, each representing a retail item the price of which has increased, and had a gas pump nozzle aimed at his head.

The skit was intended to highlight the extent to which the rising prices are making it difficult for many to get by or provide for their families.

Labor Rights Association head Luo Mei-wen (羅美文) said that labor groups are asking for a wage increase, gender equality in wages and an end to the practice of using day laborers and contract workers.

They also want more workplace inspections carried out by the government, more social housing, higher taxes on the rich and more public daycare centers.

In addition, the groups called on the government to work harder to prevent the broadly defined “system of job responsibility” being abused by employers.

Under the system, employees are assigned tasks to complete regardless of how long they take, and that approach is widely considered to be responsible for some of the alleged deaths from overwork.

The groups also urged the government to abolish Article 84-1 of the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法), which stipulates that once an employer has reach an agreement with employee and reported said agreement to the government supervisory agency, the employer is exempt from Articles 30, 32, 36, 37 and 49 of the act.

Those articles regulate the maximum number of working hours, the minimum number of weekly days off and the maximum overtime for employees, as well as stipulating additional safety measures that should be provided to protect female staff working night shifts between 10pm and 6am.

More than 1,000 workers will take to the streets on Tuesday in Taipei’s Zhongzheng District (中正), the activists said, adding that the march would be preceded two days earlier by a protest on Sunday that will take place in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Banciao District (板橋).

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