Unions urge no exceptions to mandatory rest day rule

By Ann Maxon  /  Staff reporter

Fri, Jun 15, 2018 - Page 3

The Taipei City Confederation of Trade Unions and a coalition of media unions yesterday urged the Ministry of Labor to not grant exceptions from the “one mandatory day off every seven days” restriction for the media industry, and to allow unions to collectively bargain with their employers on the issue.

The ministry convened a meeting in the afternoon to discuss whether to relax the rule for the media, slaughter and shipping industries, among others.

Shortly before the meeting, representatives of a dozen labor unions rallied outside the ministry, shouting slogans and holding banners demanding that it adhere to the requirement stipulated in the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法).

“To cover the North Korea-US summit in Singapore on Tuesday, the BBC alone sent an 80-member crew and South Korean media outlets each sent teams of between 60 and 70 professionals. In contrast, Taiwanese media outlets sent an average of two people,” Eastern Broadcasting Co union president Liao Chi-kuang (廖啟光) said.

Taiwanese media professionals are typically overworked on such trips and are not given any overtime pay, and they often work 12 hours per day, he said.

“Why is it that media from other nations can share the workload among a larger group, but we cannot? If the government wants to make us work for more than seven consecutive days, they should at least make sure that companies are not understaffed,” Liao said.

Current regulations stipulate that employees who work seven consecutive days can receive 1.59 times their usual wage on the sixth day and twice their normal pay on the seventh day, as well as a paid day off, Taiwan Media Workers’ Union director Xue Han-jun (薛翰駿) said.

“If the ministry grants the media industry an exception from the rule, employees could work 12 consecutive days without any additional pay or time off,” Xue said.

Taiwanese media outlets are well-unionized and ready to collectively bargain with their employers on the issue, Public Television Service Union director Wang Yen-chieh (王燕杰) said, adding that the ministry should allow them to negotiate whether they could work for more consecutive days under certain circumstances.

“No one knows better than us under what circumstances we might be asked to work for more consecutive days or face more occupational hazards,” Wang said.

The act, which sets minimum requirements for employers, must not be compromised in any way, confederation chairwoman Cheng Ya-hui (鄭雅慧) said.

“If employees can be asked to work seven days a week, it would completely negate the government’s ‘five-day workweek’ policy enacted in 2016,” Cheng said, adding that the “five-day workweek” has proven to be a lie.