The Executive Yuan’s last-minute decision on Saturday evening to delay the implementation of its “six work days and one rest day” policy — which the Ministry of Labor made without consulting industries — showed that the new government’s decisionmaking process is sloppy and out of touch. Worse than having a policy flip-flop, government officials are like troublemakers who busy themselves fighting fires that they themselves started.
Following a three-hour inter-ministrial meeting on Saturday, Minister of Labor Kuo Fong-yu (郭芳煜) told a news conference that the Cabinet decided that implementation of the new work day rules, initially scheduled to take effect today, would be postponed for two months.
The new rules have sparked an outcry in some industries, such as tourism, media and transportation, which have argued that they need rostering flexibility and the new rules would make that difficult.
The proposal to ban a seven-day workweek was motivated by a commendable desire to ensure adequate rest for workers; however, the crudity and lack of implementation details in the policy was far from laudable.
The ministry’s proposal would have changed policy that has been in place for three decades. While their impact on most sectors would arguably be limited, the changes would have caused immense difficulties for sectors with special requirements. Some flexibility, such as an adjustment period for employers, would have helped mitigate the policy’s negative effects.
However, the ministry did not communicate with employers or unions prior to announcing its policy and ignored objections when they were raised. When transportation, tourism and media industries said that the proposal would create rostering issues, the ministry said they needed to hire more staff.
The ministry did not explain how, in the one month between its policy announcement and scheduled promulgation, employers could have hired enough qualified workers to meet their needs, or if such increased staff numbers were affordable.
The same faults led to controversy over a proposed amendment to the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法). The government’s proposed leave policy, a five-day workweek with one fixed day off and one flexible “rest day,” is more flexible than the “two regular days off” per week plan that is supported by opposition parties and labor unions.
However, the leave policy was drafted without consulting the public or affected parties and was so poorly communicated that the Presidential Office could not even convince all Democratic Progressive Party lawmakers to support its version of the bill. How does the government expect the nation’s employers and unions to support its proposal when even its own lawmakers are not onboard?
With the poor quality of its policymaking, it is not surprising that the administration of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has had to reversed course on its “six work days and one rest day” proposal and that most observers say further delays in the amendment of the Labor Standards Act are unavoidable.
On Saturday, the ministry belatedly said that it would hold three conferences on the labor amendment proposal in northern, central and southern Taiwan. Again, it is too little, too late to communicate with the public now.
Listening to the public was what the administration should have done before it started writing policy.
Just two months after the new government was sworn in, some of its officials have already showed that their bureaucratic hubris and arrogance are every bit the match for their predecessors, if not more so. Their inability to see beyond the confines of their air-conditioned offices has led to badly thought out policy that is out of touch with reality. They have not only failed to communicate before making major decisions, but have refused to listen even after they failed.
Unless the administration works on adjusting its attitude and mind-set, it will have to get used to losing ground in the polls.
A Taipei veterinarian is urging pet owners to avoid using insecticides around their homes, as their ingredients can be toxic to pets. Commercial-grade insecticides contain pyrethroids — organic compounds similar to natural pyrethrins, pesticides produced by flowers such as chrysanthemums — in quantities that are harmless to humans, but potentially fatal to cats and dogs, Asian Veterinary Specialist Referral Center veterinarian Chua Man-ling (蔡曼琳) said. Even in small quantities, pyrethroids are hazardous to cats, as they lack the metabolic enzymes needed to process them, Chua said. Cockroach sprays and ant traps are especially dangerous to pets as they contain boric acid, she
People should avoid eating too many zongzi (粽子, glutinous rice wrapped in bamboo leaves), as consuming several in one meal could cause indigestion, bloating, gastric acid reflux, heartburn and other stomach ailments, a doctor said on Saturday. Zongzi is a traditional delicacy for the Dragon Boat Festival, which was on Thursday. Citing a recent case as an example, Cathay General Hospital gastroenterology department head Chu Yu-ming (朱淯銘) said that a 58-year-old taxi driver surnamed Hsiao (蕭) ate meals at irregular hours due to his work and has been taking diabetes medicine for three years. Hsiao recently bought a bag of zongzi and ate
DREAMING OF TRAVEL: About 7,000 people applied for the experience, with about 60 chosen for the first flight yesterday, which includes boarding an airplane Starved of the travel experience during COVID-19? Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) has the solution — a fake itinerary where you check in, go through passport control and security, and even board the aircraft. You just never leave. The airport yesterday began offering travelers the chance to do just that, with about 60 people eager to get going, albeit to nowhere. About 7,000 people applied to take part, with the winners chosen by random. More fake flight experiences are to take place in the coming weeks. “I really want to leave the country, but because of the pandemic, lots of flights cannot fly,”
A DEPRIVATION? The Taiwan Higher Education Union said the program, which drew much student criticism, undermined students' right to an education The Taiwan Higher Education Union on Monday accused Ming Chuan University (MCU) of sacrificing its students’ right to education by altering the English-language instruction for first-year students. The university, which has long emphasized the value that it places on English-language education, in the 2019-2020 academic year changed its English program for first-year students to a combination of self-learning through online videos and weekly lab sessions, during which students would take online tests, the union said. The change has deprived more than 3,000 students of in-person instruction and of interaction with their teachers, the union added. The online program drew much criticism from students