Tue, Mar 26, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Workers’ unions protest strike notice proposal

By Ann Maxon  /  Staff reporter

A coaltion of workers’ rights groups protest outside the Legislative Yuan in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: CNA

A coalition of unions yesterday protested outside the office of independent Legislator Chao Cheng-yu (趙正宇) in Taoyuan, urging him to drop a proposal that would require workers to notify authorities 10 days before a strike.

The protest, organized by the Taoyuan Confederation of Trade Unions (TCTU), the China Airlines Employee Union, the EVA Air Union and the Federation of Aviation Employees, ROC, drew dozens of protesters to Chao’s office in Bade District (八德), despite rain.

Chao’s proposal is “misleading and would restrict unions’ right to strike,” the TCTU said in a statement.

While Chao claimed that the proposal is based on similar legislation abroad, he did not take into account the extreme power imbalance between employers and employees in Taiwan, it said.

Under the Act for Settlement of Labor-Management Disputes (勞資爭議處理法), a union can only strike when government mediation has failed to resolve the dispute and at least half of its members have voted in favor of action, it said.

It could take two months from filing for government mediation to passing a decision to strike, the confederation said.

In countries that require a notification period, the barriers to holding a strike are usually much lower, it said.

For example, in Japan and the US, where there is legislation regarding a strike notice period, the number of strikes is between 12 and 39 per year, it said.

In contrast, Taiwan has fewer than four per year, it said.

Although Chao’s proposal also stipulates penalties ranging from NT$200,000 to NT$600,000 for companies that attempt to impede legal strikes by hiring temporary personnel or other means, they would offer “zero protection” for workers, the TCTU said.

By the time the government or a court rules that a company has breached the law, its attempts to thwart a strike would have already achieved the desired effect, it said.

Moreover, even if hiring temporary personnel were banned, companies could still contract work out or transfer it to overseas branches, it said.

“If workers had to notify their employer about a strike, what other tools would they have to make an employer pay attention to their needs?” Taoyuan Flight Attendants’ Union member Chu Chia-yun (曲佳雲) told reporters.

Chao said at a news conference at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei that his proposal would not reduce workers’ rights or weaken the effects of strikes.

The draft amendments include many articles that would increase workers’ rights, Chao said.

In addition to imposing penalties on companies that attempt to thwart strikes, it would require the government to release its mediation records to help the public understand labor disputes from the unions’ standpoint, he said.

“The proposal is not all about helping the employer,’” he said. “It hopes to balance various conflicting interests.”

“Workers’ rights are important, but public interests should also be valued,” Chao said.

Chao last month proposed amendments to the act after a strike by China Airlines pilots earlier in the month caused 214 flights to be canceled.

While the People First Party (PFP) caucus and Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chen Ming-wen (陳明文) also unveiled plans to introduce a strike notice period, the PFP aims to limit the requirement to the aviation industry.

Neither proposes penalties for employers.

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