Thu, Jul 21, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Protesters call for Executive Yuan to withdraw amendments to labor laws

By Abraham Gerber  /  Staff reporter

Representatives of labor groups stage a protest outside the Executuve Yuan in Taipei yesterday to demand that the government withdraw a draft amendment to the Labor Standards Act that eliminates seven public holidays.

Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times

The Executive Yuan should withdraw flawed amendments to the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法), protesters said yesterday, as a hunger strike continued prior to today’s expected passage by a legislative committee of the amendments.

More than 30 protesters from several unions and groups gathered outside the Executive Yuan complex in Taipei, calling for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to withdraw the amendments and restore seven national holidays.

Elimination of the holidays has been a lightning rod in the ongoing national debate over implementing a five-day workweek, with Ministry of Labor plans calling for the holidays to be abolished after the passage of amendments to the act stipulating one mandatory day off and one flexible “rest day” each week.

“Extra pay for working on days off is fake — what is real is the reduced number of holidays,” Taipei City Confederation of Trade Unions chairwoman Cheng Ya-hui (鄭雅慧) said, echoing criticism that the ministry’s supplementary measures to restrict rest day overtime would be difficult to enforce.

The measures would increase overtime pay or compensatory leave for any rest day work hours.

Taiwan Higher Education Union organization department director Lin Po-yi (林柏儀) called for the proposed changes to be put on hold until further discussions are held.

“The government should not hold a knife to our throats by pushing the holiday reductions as a negotiation strategy,” he said.

“As the DPP controls both the legislative and executive branches, all Legislative Yuan proceedings are just about escorting its proposed changes to passage,” said Alliance for Workers of Closed Factories member Lu Chyi-horng (盧其宏), who demanded the immediate withdrawal of the Executive Yuan’s bill.

“The DPP plans to discuss how to address the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) illicit assets. Why does it not talk about how business owners eat the people’s flesh and suck their blood?” he said.

Lu was critical of the ministry’s assertion that turning flexible rest days into mandatory days off would affect long weekends, as national holidays are often tied with weekends, but workers are forced to work the preceding Saturday to make up for the “additional” time off.

“There would not be any problem as long as the seven days are given back to workers, because they can be moved [to join other official holidays with weekends],” he said.

A government representative briefly greeted protesters, but quickly returned to the complex before accepting their petition, saying that the Executive Yuan would respect the Legislative Yuan’s decision on the proposed amendments.

Eight protesters yesterday camped outside the Legislative Yuan to continue a hunger strike.

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