Labor rights groups yesterday protested against the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei (AmCham) for what they called its pressuring of the government into relaxing labor standards, urging workers to join a march advocating workers’ rights on Labor Day next month.
About 30 members of various labor groups rallied in front of AmCham’s office on Minsheng E Road in Taipei, holding banners and shouting: “Taiwanese are dying from overwork as American bosses swim in cash.”
“We believe AmCham played a major role in lobbying for the current version of the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法), which is expected to increase death from overwork,” Taiwan Higher Education Union researcher Chen Po-chien (陳柏謙) said.
Photo: Lee Ya-wen, Taipei Times
In June last year, AmCham released a white paper calling for more flexibility when planning workers’ schedules, despite Taiwan already having the fifth-longest working hours in the world, he said.
“AmCham chairman Albert Chang (章錦華) criticized the ‘one fixed day off and one flexible rest day’ policy, saying that its inflexibility is almost unparalleled in the world,” Chen said.
Chang also advocated the nationwide implementation of the four-week “flexitime” schedule” — which is only allowed for a handful of sectors — saying that previous limits on work hours would scare away foreign talent, Chen said.
He added that after the government amended the act following AmCham’s suggestion, Executive Yuan spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) immediately said the organization highly approved of the new law.
Many companies that are members of AmCham have been embroiled in labor disputes, including Micron Technology, which illegally fired union members, and glass manufacturer Corning and insurance firm Cigna, which illegally avoided paying employees, Chen said.
Last month, AmCham openly recommended relaxing Article 84-1 of the act, Labor Rights Association executive director Wang Chuan-ping (王娟萍) said.
The article defines special circumstances in which companies can be freed of work hour limits and rest day regulations.
If they succeed, the entire act would become useless, she said.
“AmCham wants to make Taiwanese workers their slaves. It is outrageous,” Wang said.
The demonstrators called on workers nationwide to join their fight to improve labor rights by participating in their march on May 1.
“At the march, we will demand better workers’ rights, higher pay and say no to overwork. We will also promote two referendums that we have proposed,” Chen said.
One of the proposed referendums aims to nullify the amendments to the act that took effect last month, while the other aims at reinstating seven national holidays that the Democratic Progressive Party canceled in exchange for support for a December 2016 amendment to the act implementing the “one fixed day off and one flexible rest day” labor policy, he said.
The rally concluded with the protesters tearing up a cardboard AmCham logo and throwing the debris on the pavement in front of the organization’s office.
A Taipei veterinarian is urging pet owners to avoid using insecticides around their homes, as their ingredients can be toxic to pets. Commercial-grade insecticides contain pyrethroids — organic compounds similar to natural pyrethrins, pesticides produced by flowers such as chrysanthemums — in quantities that are harmless to humans, but potentially fatal to cats and dogs, Asian Veterinary Specialist Referral Center veterinarian Chua Man-ling (蔡曼琳) said. Even in small quantities, pyrethroids are hazardous to cats, as they lack the metabolic enzymes needed to process them, Chua said. Cockroach sprays and ant traps are especially dangerous to pets as they contain boric acid, she
People should avoid eating too many zongzi (粽子, glutinous rice wrapped in bamboo leaves), as consuming several in one meal could cause indigestion, bloating, gastric acid reflux, heartburn and other stomach ailments, a doctor said on Saturday. Zongzi is a traditional delicacy for the Dragon Boat Festival, which was on Thursday. Citing a recent case as an example, Cathay General Hospital gastroenterology department head Chu Yu-ming (朱淯銘) said that a 58-year-old taxi driver surnamed Hsiao (蕭) ate meals at irregular hours due to his work and has been taking diabetes medicine for three years. Hsiao recently bought a bag of zongzi and ate
While stereotypically considered a household pest that simply will not die, Hung Ting-yang’s (洪鼎揚) experience with Archimandrita tesselata, commonly called the peppered roach, might change a person’s mind. The peppered roach originates in South America, is omnivorous and, as it is capable of growing to 7cm to 9cm long, is a giant compared with other roaches, which have an average length of about 4cm. The peppered roach goes through six separate chrysalis stages and takes nine months to reach full maturity. Mature roaches have wings, but cannot fly and can only glide. They have an average lifespan of three years. As his
The EU’s list of safe nations to which it would reopen borders next week does not include Taiwan, but the Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday said the list has not been finalized and some EU countries have highlighted the importance of “reciprocity.” The provisional list comprises Algeria, Andorra, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, San Marino, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay and the Vatican, the New York Times reported on Friday. The EU said it would add China, considered one of the “acceptable countries,” if it also opens its borders to EU travelers, the newspaper reported. Backed by