The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus is today to propose a revision to the Cabinet’s latest draft amendment to the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法) to clearly define preconditions that would allow employees in some industries to be exempt from requiring a minimum of 11 hours of rest between shifts.
The draft amendment would allow certain industries to lower the minimum rest time between shifts from 11 hours to eight hours, given that it is approved by the relevant authorities and the Ministry of Labor.
The DPP’s proposed revision would lay down a screening mechanism to ensure that the industries that are given the rest time exemption are indeed those with staffing difficulties, DPP caucus secretary-general Ho Hsin-chun (何欣純) said yesterday.
Industries that require the services of specially trained professionals, or those that have to meet special staffing needs because of issues such as seasonal fluctuation, might be relieved of the obligation to ensure 11 hours of rest between shifts, she said.
The ministry, when approving the exemption, must clearly describe why that industry should be approved, Ho said, adding that industries which do not meet the preconditions would not be exempt even if they are short-staffed.
The DPP caucus began drafting the revision after negotiations with Premier William Lai (賴清德) on Wednesday and Thursday as some DPP lawmakers had reservations about the draft amendment, she said, adding that the caucus will not make changes to the amendment’s proposal to raise the maximum number of consecutive working days from six to 12.
Minister of Labor Lin Mei-chu (林美珠) on Friday met with the DPP caucus to seek its endorsement of the amendment.
She offered to establish a screening mechanism to evaluate which industries would be allowed to increase their maximum consecutive working days, local media reports said.
She proposed that instead of allowing individual businesses to seek permission, the ministry would conduct an industry-wide evaluation with the relevant authorities.
The ministry would then announce industry-specific conditions and deadlines for the industries that get approval, she said.
The DPP caucus might adopt some of Lin’s proposals in its revision of the shift regulations, but the decision would not be finalized until today, Ho said.
Separately yesterday, Sunflower movement leader Chen Wei-ting (陳為廷) drew a parallel between the DPP government and former president Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration, which signed a controversial cross-strait service trade deal with China in 2013 that sparked the Sunflower movement.
“The fuss surrounding draft amendments to the Labor Standards Act has been going on for more than two weeks. With the DPP caucus scheduled to review and railroad the amendments through the legislative committee review next Monday [today], the air is filled with a sense of powerlessness,” he said.
Chen said he and movement participants felt a similar sentiment when they occupied the Legislative Yuan in 2014, urging people who are fed up with the DPP to take their frustration to the street and join protests planned outside the legislature today.
Additional reporting by Stacy Hsu
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