Mon, Dec 24, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Protesters want holidays, slam DPP labor policies

By Ann Maxon  /  Staff reporter

Labor rights advocates protesting outside Democratic Progressive Party headquarters in Taipei’s Zhongzheng District yesterday hold signs accusing the party of failing to uphold workers’ rights.

Photo: CNA

A coalition of groups yesterday protested outside Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) headquarters in Taipei, demanding that the Cabinet improve working conditions by restoring seven public holidays scrapped in 2016 and rescinding labor laws introduced in January.

“The DPP’s bruising losses in the Nov. 24 elections were fundamentally caused by its decision to side with capitalists at the expense of workers’ rights,” 15 groups said in a joint statement.

“If the party is serious about learning from its defeat, it should revise the labor laws that it made worse with its two amendments — specifically by restoring seven public holidays and ensuring that workers have two weekly days off,” they said.

The statement was endorsed by the Taiwan Labor Rights Pioneer Association, the Taiwan Higher Education Union’s youth action committee, the Alliance Against the Commercialization of Education and 12 student groups.

The DPP-controlled Legislative Yuan in December 2016 amended the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法), introducing a five-day workweek and increasing overtime pay, but also scrapping seven public holidays.

However, the act was relaxed in January, when the legislature scrapped a rule that required overtime pay to be calculated in blocks of four hours and introduced a flexibility clause allowing workers in certain industries to work for up to 12 consecutive days.

DPP members, including Premier William Lai (賴清德), erroneously attributed last month’s election defeats to dissatisfaction among businesses over increased personnel costs caused by the introduction of the five-day workweek, the coalition said.

“Instead of reflecting on the extent to which the amendments have undermined workers’ rights, the party was concerned about how they might have overburdened employers,” it said.

About a dozen coalition members shouted “Repent or lose more elections” outside the building on Beiping E Road. Some climbed over barricades set up by police, but did not enter the building, which was surrounded by police.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) pledged to raise salaries and reduce work hours while on the campaign trail in 2016, but the DPP’s policies have “left workers even more overworked and paid less,” Taiwan Labor Rights Pioneer Association member Wu Zhou-ju (吳昭儒) said.

Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics data show that from 2016 to last year, average work hours increased from 2,034 to 2,035 per year, Wu said.

A comparison of average work hours in the first eight months of last year and this year also shows that people are becoming increasingly overworked, he said.

The government must restore the holidays and abolish the clause that allows people to work for up to 12 consecutive days, the coalition said, adding that it would continue to protest until improvements are made.

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