Employers forcing their employees to overwork should face criminal punishment, members of the Taiwan Association for Victims of Occupational Injuries said yesterday, adding that the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法) and the Occupational Safety and Health Act (職業安全衛生法) should be amended to stipulate such punishments.
The association staged a protest at the Taipei Garden Hotel, where Premier William Lai (賴清德) was having a breakfast meeting with business leaders.
They later held another protest outside the Legislative Yuan to make their appeals known.
Association representative Ho Kuang-wan (賀光卍) said that Lai pushed for the amendments to the labor act because he wanted to give businesses the flexibility they needed to adjust work hours.
The government has yet to offer solutions to prevent employers from overworking their employees, but Lai wanted to propose another amendment to the labor act to turn into an evil law again, he said.
Families of the victims of occupational injuries also spoke out in the protest.
They said that Lu Chih-wei (呂智偉), a cargo truck driver, fainted during a delivery in March.
His wife, who was his assistant and was with him in the truck on the day of the accident, said that her husband did not wake up and eventually died in June.
She said that the truck company did and said nothing about her husband’s death, adding that she had to provide evidence to the Ministry of Labor that her husband was indeed overworked.
The protesters gave another example: 64-year-old clothing factory worker Lin Wen-chia (林穩甲), who died while he was working in a factory.
Although the ministry found that Lin had indeed been overworked, his family lost a civil lawsuit against the clothing factory, the protesters said.
As compensation for losing the lawsuit, the family must pay the clothing factory NT$100,000, which happened to be the same amount of money that the factory donated for Lin’s funeral, they said.
The association in 2009 proposed making overwork a criminal offense, but it was opposed by six business groups in 2010, which lobbied lawmakers to turn down such legislation.
he association proposed that employers should be sentenced to six months in prison if they do not abide by the work hour regulations in the labor act, including violating the rules on normal working hours and overtime; failing to allow employees to rest for at least 11 hours between shifts; and failing to give workers a 30-minute break for every four hours worked.
Under the proposed change to the Occupational Safety and Health Act, employers would face three years in prison if they do not properly implement the rules governing work hours and work shifts that leads to death of employees, the association said, adding that they would also face one year in prison if the same negligence leads to injury.
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