A row over an amendment to the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法) concerning the five-day workweek continued in the Legislative Yuan’s general assembly meeting yesterday, with the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus refusing to engage in cross-caucus negotiations and occupying the speaker’s podium.
After scuffles in the committee in the past two days, Legislative Speaker Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) called for a cross-caucus negotiation yesterday morning, which the KMT caucus snubbed, saying that a negotiation should have been called when opposition lawmakers demanded that the Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee amendment review meeting on Oct. 5 be invalidated.
KMT Legislator Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) said that the negotiation was only called because “someone had shed tears.”
He was referring to New Power Party (NPP) Executive Chairman Huang Kuo-chang’s (黃國昌) tears during Thursday’s committee meeting where a physical fight broke out among lawmakers and Huang accused the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) of betraying its legislative reform promises.
Huang, denying he cried, said that Chiang’s comment was “low,” adding that he could not imagine that Chiang was a former university professor.
The KMT caucus also accused Su of being biased in negotiations.
Su said the cross-caucus negotiations, which have never before been publicized, have been open to the public — with recordings and documented transcripts — since his speakership.
“I believe it could be publicly examined and weighed by the public whether I have been biased in these negotiations,” Su said.
He said that while caucuses have different views on amendments, which is not unusual, “opposition should be handled by following legislative procedure” rather than occupying the speaker’s podium.
Su was reacting to yesterday morning’s occupation of the podium by more than a dozen KMT lawmakers in the general assembly chamber.
They held up banners and shouted: “The KMT will not bow to the DPP’s fists,” “[We are] against tyranny of the majority and refuse condescending negotiations” and “The meeting is invalid and the review [should be] redone.”
DPP lawmakers shouted back, demanding a proper floor meeting, with some tearing up the KMT’s banners.
Huang on Thursday said that the “[legislative] institution has been disrupted” and accused the DPP caucus of failing to respect due procedure.
Su said that committee procedures have not been disrupted, but “it is people who have been disruptive.”
“Is there a regulation that sanctions the occupation of the podium?” Huang asked, adding that “committee-centered” legislative operation means that “disputes in committees have to be resolved within the committees and among caucuses through talks” and “without the speaker’s intervention.”
The floor chamber had been nearly empty with few lawmakers and the KMT’s banners left on the podium after the exchange in the morning.
The meeting ended at 6pm.
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