Wed, Apr 24, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Labor groups gear up for march to demand holidays

By Ann Maxon  /  Staff reporter

Labor group representatives yesterday take part in a news conference on Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office Building in Taipei to promote a street demonstration scheduled for Labor Day on Wednesday next week.

Photo: CNA

Thousands of workers are to mark International Workers’ Day on Wednesday next week with a march in Taipei to demand more rest days and better rights, labor rights groups organizing the event said yesterday.

More than 5,000 people have signed up for the march, which is to begin on Ketagalan Boulevard at 1:30pm, the groups said.

Participants would march to the Ministry of Labor and Legislative Yuan before returning to the boulevard for a rally in front of the Presidential Office Building, they said.

The march is part of an effort to ensure a life of dignity for workers in an increasingly oppressive environment, said Chuang Chueh-an (莊爵安), president of the Taiwan Confederation of Trade Unions, one of the event organizers, at a rally attended by more than a dozen labor rights groups on the boulevard.

Statistics show that labor rights in Taiwan have been generally declining over the past 15 years, he said.

Compared with countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Taiwanese in 2017 worked 36 days more, but earned US$1,680 less, he said.

“That is a huge gap,” he added.

Despite two amendments to the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法) passed in December 2016 and January last year, the nation’s average annual work hours have not fallen, Tainan County Confederation of Trade Unions secretary-general Huang Yu-te (黃育德) said.

The march would call for more public holidays to ensure that workers get enough rest, he said.

The groups have proposed 13 new public holidays and would hold an online poll to facilitate public discussion on instating new holidays, Huang said.

The proposed dates for the holidays include the fourth day of the Lunar New Year, Freedom of Expression Day on April 7 and a day marking the lifting of martial law on July 15, 1987, he said.

Other demands include extending maternity leave from 56 days to 90 days and abolishing Article 84-1 of the act, which exempts certain industries from work-hour restrictions.

Minister of Labor Hsu Ming-chun (許銘春) said that the ministry is already working toward realizing the groups’ demands.

The ministry respects the groups’ opinions and would humbly accept their criticism and suggestions, she said, adding that she is willing to collaborate with labor groups.

Additional reporting by CNA

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