Mon, Oct 24, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Students protest national holiday changes

UNFAIR:The cancelation of seven holidays would make student workers unable to earn the overtime pay they deserve, a member of the Labor Struggle group said

By Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter

Students demonstrate in front of the Democratic Progressive Party’s headquarters in Taipei yesterday, in protest against a draft amendment to the Labor Standards Act.

Photo: Peter Lo, Taipei Times

Nearly 100 students demonstrated in front of the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) headquarters in Taipei yesterday, accusing the party of reneging on its campaign promises by seeking to cancel seven national holidays, a move they said would hurt the rights of part-time student workers.

Students from 59 organizations and unions marched from the legislative and executive branch buildings to the DPP headquarters to protest a draft amendment to the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法), which would implement a five-day workweek with one regular day off and one flexible rest day and reduce the number of national holidays from 19 to 12.

The demonstration was the latest in a series of protests after the amendment passed a first reading at the Legislative Yuan earlier this month.

They placed a liver-shaped papier-mache sculpture in front of the DPP’s headquarters and set off a firecracker inside the prop to symbolize how the amendment could damage workers’ health.

Protesters described the DPP as a “capitalist progressive party” and attached a plaque bearing the name at the entrance to the party headquarters, which was cordoned off by police.

Taiwan Higher Education Union member Su Tzu-hsuan (蘇子軒) said the DPP promised to reinstate the seven holidays — which are generally not observed among companies that have already adopted a five-day workweek — when campaigning for elections, but reneged on its promise and lost young people’s trust.

“The DPP aligned itself with young people and mobilized young voters ahead of [January’s] elections, but the DPP government has made itself an enemy to young workers by attempting to slash the seven holidays,” said Cheng Chung-hao (鄭仲皓), a member of Labor Struggle (工鬥), a coalition of labor unions and student groups.

The planned cancelation of the seven holidays would make student workers, who usually work part-time, unable to earn the overtime pay they deserve, Cheng said.

Based on an hourly wage of NT$133, part-time student workers would make NT$7,000 to NT$10,000 less every year when the amendment takes effect, he said.

“We cannot see the future with the DPP government’s outrageous action to slash the seven holidays,” Cheng said.

The protesters said they would join another protest tomorrow, organized by Labor Struggle, to urge the DPP to halt the controversial policy.

DPP spokesman Yang Chia-liang (楊家俍) said the DPP’s stance is to reduce the total number of working hours, implement a five-day workweek and unify the nation’s various leave schemes.

“The DPP is the workers’ partner, and it has heard young people’s voices,” Yang said.

The government is pushing for legislation to improve working conditions which would benefit novice workers, he said.

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