Sun, Jan 20, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Groups protest council ‘coercing’ labor ministry

TOO MUCH?The coalition of trade unions called on the Ministry of Labor to ignore the National Development Council and evaluate whether Article 84-1 is still needed

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

Union members outside the Ministry of Labor in Taipei yesterday hold signs that read: “Workers are overworked” during a protest against a proposed responsibility-based system for workers above a certain salary level.

Photo: CNA

A coalition of trade unions yesterday demonstrated outside the National Development Council in Taipei, protesting what it called the council’s attempt to pressure the Ministry of Labor into imposing a salary threshold that would allow employers to subject some employees to a responsibility-based scheme and could aggravate overwork.

The council succumbed to pressure from the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei and the European Chamber of Commerce Taiwan when in August last year it overstepped its bounds and submitted a proposal to the ministry that asked it to widen the scope of Article 84-1 of the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法), Taiwan Federation of Financial Unions secretary-general Han Shih-hsien (韓仕賢) said.

The article allows employers to bypass the act and have workers in 40 professions — including flight attendants, reporters, security guards, chauffeurs at government agencies and women working the night shift — work on a responsibility-based schedule, as long as an agreement is reached between the employer and the employee, and the agreement is forwarded to local governments.

The measure could mean that the employees would have to be on call at all times.

The proposal seeks to subject company executives, professionals whose job is unofficially responsibility-based and people working in innovative sectors to Article 84-1, provided that their pay is at least twice their firm’s median salary, or in the top 15th percentile.

The ministry rejected the proposal in December last year during a “labor standards consultation meeting,” and the council responded by issuing a statement criticizing the ministry, calling its decision “regrettable and disappointing,” as it could discourage foreign investment in the nation, Han said.

The council continued to pressure the ministry, which early this month unveiled a draft provision proposing to allow workers who hold a managerial post and earn a monthly salary of at least NT$200,000 to be subject to a responsibility-based schedule, he said.

The council had been negotiating with business associations and later submitted an alternative proposal, which said that people earning three times the minimum monthly wage, or NT$69,300, should be subject to the scheme, he said.

Calling council Minister Chen Mei-ling (陳美伶) a “comprador,” Han said that Chen should have stepped down earlier this month with former premier William Lai (賴清德).

Never before has a salary threshold been put forward as a condition for adopting a responsibility-based scheme, and by doing so the ministry has breached the article, Taiwan Labor Front secretary-general Son Yu-liam (孫友聯) said.

The council’s proposals were telling workers to “put their lives at stake for money,” Confederation of Taipei Trade Unions secretary-general Chen Shu-lun (陳淑綸) said.

The protesters called on the ministry to evaluate whether Article 84-1 is still warranted in modern workplaces.

Council Secretary-General Ho Chuan-te (何全德), who received a petition from the protesters, told them that their opinion would serve as a reference for future policy decisions, which only prompted them to shout slogans demanding that the council retract its proposals.

This story has been viewed 2243 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top