Tue, Dec 05, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Labor rules have strained salaries: Lai

NO HARD FEELINGS:The premier said he ‘appreciated the creativity’ of protesters and would not pursue charges against those who placed stickers on public signs

By Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter

Premier William Lai speaks during an interview yesterday on Hit FM’s Voice of Taipei radio show.

Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times

It is necessary to revise the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法), as last year’s amendment has had a negative effect on salaries, with about 11 percent of employees planning to seek part-time work to earn extra income, Premier William Lai (賴清德) said yesterday.

The “one fixed day off and one rest day” workweek scheme, promulgated in December last year, has negatively affected 19 percent of the workforce, Lai said during an interview, adding that among them, 60 percent want to work part-time to earn extra income.

Businesses have either downsized or hired part-time employees due to overtime restrictions and there are even agencies helping businesses recruit employees from other firms to help with overtime demand, Lai said.

“We need to propose solutions to these problems,” he said.

While some Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers have opposed a draft amendment proposed by the Cabinet, Lai said that all lawmakers — including DPP Legislator Lin Shu-fen (林淑芬), who has vehemently opposed the latest proposal — must have heard complaints about the lack of workweek flexibility from employers and employees alike.

Lin said he was “surprised” by the failure of the DPP caucus to pass the amendment on Nov. 23 during a legislative committee review, adding that the Cabinet cannot set the timetable for the legislation, as it falls under the legislature’s authority.

While the Cabinet’s amendment would exempt some industries from increasing the minimum rest time between shifts from eight to 11 hours, the DPP caucus is planning to refine the clause with a screening mechanism to protect workers.

Lai said he would not oppose the DPP’s modification, because the principle of the proposal would be kept intact.

He added that he would exercise more discretion when negotiating with lawmakers, following controversial exchanges last month with Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chiang Wan-an (蔣萬安) and New Power Party Executive Chairman Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌), in which he asked Chiang not to require Minister of Labor Lin Mei-chu (林美珠) to attend a legislative meeting and debated with Huang over legislative rules.

Some criticized Lai for attempting to influence the legislature, while Lai said it was natural for Cabinet members to interact with lawmakers.

Meanwhile, Lai said he appreciated the creativity of the protests against the amendment and himself, adding that he would not ask the police to press charges against protesters who put stickers on bus stops and street signs.

He said he did not regret the amendment despite the protests, as it was part of President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) instructions to him upon assuming the premiership.

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