Sat, Sep 10, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Critics protest 5% wage increase

By Abraham Gerber  /  Staff reporter

A man looks at a liver representing workers’ deteriorating health due to overwork during a protest outside the offices of the Chinese National Federation of Industries in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: CNA

Labor rights campaigners yesterday protested outside the offices of the Chinese National Federation of Industries in Taipei, criticizing the organization for its opposition to an increase in the minimum wage and extra holidays for workers.

About a dozen young people from a range of labor groups, including the Taiwan Higher Education Union, the Workers’ Struggle Alliance and the Taiwan International Workers’ Association, protested in the foyer outside the federation’s offices. They had an altercation with federation officials before police officers arrived and the officials closed the doors.

“We are here to hold discussions with the capitalists to demand that they stop exploiting workers,” Workers’ Struggle Alliance member Cheng Chung-hao (鄭仲皓) said. “We are here to lodge a stern protest and also because they will then have to face up to the true plight of workers.”

The protesters cited corporate pressure as the primary reason the Ministry of Labor’s minimum wage review committee on Thursday rejected their demand for a 40 percent increase in favor of a 5 percent increase.

The protesters said the federation had also lobbied for other anti-worker policies, particularly a cut in the number of national holidays.

“They have continually been applying pressure and making statements, and our bourgeois government has chosen to be close to them,” Taiwan Higher Education Union youth action committee member Tzeng Fu-chuan (曾福全) said.

The protesters shouted that they would “settle their accounts” with the “rogue capitalists,” while handing a raw liver to a federation representative in a play on the Mandarin phrase “bursting one’s liver (爆肝),” which is often used as a synonym for overwork.

They then wrote slogans over the federation’s entrance signage before dispersing.

The protest was greeted with incredulity by federation secretary-general Tsai Tsung-sheng (蔡總生).

“I really do not understand why they are protesting — if anyone should be protesting, it should be us,” Tsai said, estimating that the new minimum wage would increase corporations’ costs by NT$23.3 billion (US$739 million) a year. “They should go to the Ministry of Labor to protest, because it made the decision.”

Minister of Labor Kuo Fong-yu (郭芳煜) on Thursday said that his ministry had proposed the 5 percent increase to the minimum wage review committee after members of the committee had failed to reach a consensus.

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