Tue, Oct 03, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Labor ministry is collecting opinions on policy: minister

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

The Ministry of Labor is collecting opinions about the controversial “one fixed day off and one flexible rest day” regulation and is to report the results to Premier William Lai (賴清德) before he makes the final decision on whether to make amendments, Minister of Labor Lin Mei-chu (林美珠) said yesterday.

Lin was scheduled to brief the legislature’s Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee on ministry operations, but the lawmakers wished to focus on how it plans to address controversies surrounding the amended workweek policy stipulated in the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法), which Lai vowed to address when he took office last month.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chen Yi-ming (陳宜民) said he was disappointed in Lin’s written briefing to the committee, as only less than one page discussed the workweek policy and its effects.

He asked if the ministry was really determined to amend the policy, now that Lai is in a position to do so.

Lin has been in office for eight months and has rarely talked about the government’s workweek policy in public, for which the media has called her a “hidden minister,” KMT Legislator Hsu Shu-hua (許淑華) said.

The ministry has held more than 100 information sessions nationwide about the policy, but the voices in attendance were more or less the same, Hsu said.

More information sessions are meaningless, she said, adding that the ministry should not use these sessions as a strategy to delay amending the policy.

“As the labor minister, you have to have a clear position on this policy, but we have yet to see one,” she added.

KMT Legislator Chiang Wan-an (蔣萬安) showed a video clip from a plenary session on Tuesday last week, in which Lai said he wants to resolve the workweek controversies by amending regulations and has plans to make the Cabinet’s version of the amendment public by the end of this month.

However, Lin has been equivocal on where she stands on the issue, Chiang said.

“I want to make sure if I heard it wrong or if the minister [Lin] misunderstood what the premier said,” Chiang said.

Although workers and businesses have doubts about the policy and expect a quick change, the government should not rush to any decisions and must review all options after hearing from all the parties involved, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Yang Yao (楊曜) said.

The “hidden minister” characterization is unacceptable, Lin said, adding that she has visited 109 workers’ unions and participated in 33 information sessions since June.

The ministry does not rule out amending the regulations, Lin said, adding that although the policy was legislated with good intent, it needs to be re-evaluated wherever there is trouble enforcing it.

The ministry would weigh all options under the principle of protecting workers’ safety and welfare, and maintaining businesses’ flexibility to deploy workers, after which it is to report its evaluation to the premier, she said.

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