Tue, Feb 06, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Plebiscite petition on work changes turned in by SDP

By Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter

Members of a Social Democratic Party-led coalition against amendments to the Labor Standards Act wave placards at a demonstration yesterday before submitting 2,228 petition forms backing their call for a referendum to abolish new amendments to the Labor Standards Law to the Central Election Commission in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Huang Yao-cheng, Taipei Times

A coalition led by the Social Democratic Party (SDP) yesterday submitted 2,228 petition forms to the Central Election Commission calling for a referendum to abolish a set of amendments to the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法) — the latest in a series of referendum proposals to nullify the controversial changes.

The amendments, which were promulgated by the president on Wednesday last week, allow some industries to raise the maximum number of consecutive working days to 12 and conditionally lower the rest time between shifts.

Critics say the measures undermine workers’ rights.

The petition was proposed on Jan. 12 by a SDP-led coalition that includes a number of labor unions and student groups and officially started following the law’s promulgation.

They collected enough petition forms to pass the 1,879-petition threshold needed to initiate a referendum topic.

“The Democratic Progressive Party [DPP] administration is in a hurry to put forward policies that are biased toward businesses, so workers have come together to ‘return the favor’ [with the referendum drive] to make the administration listen to public opinion,” SDP convener Fan Yun (范雲) said.

Coalition member Cheng Hao-chung (鄭皓中) said that student groups last week launched a signature collection campaign on campuses across the nation, because students are worried about working conditions.

“The DPP government has made young people take to the streets, and they will use different ways to make their anger known in addition to the referendum, including voting against the party that aligns itself with capitalism, in year-end elections,” Cheng said.

Several referendum petitions, although phrased differently, have been launched, including those by the New Power Party (NPP), the Taiwan Medical Alliance for Labor Justice and Patient Safety and a coalition of labor groups.

The NPP and the medical alliance have already submitted their petitions to the commission.

Fan said she did not think multiple referendum drives would offset their initiative and the SDP-led coalition is willing to work with others to achieve their common goal.

The proposed referendum topic is likely to be discussed during a commission meeting on Tuesday next week, which would review the signed petitions and discuss if the subject of the referendum should be merged with similar topics.

If the topic is approved, the SDP will have to launch a second campaign to collect more than 280,000 signatures to pass the threshold for seconding a proposed topic.

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