Labor groups hold rally outside AmCham offices

VISIBLE ANGER::Protesters burnt a copy of the ‘Taiwan White Paper’ and urged people to sign a petition to scrap rules on relaxing work hours and reducing overtime pay

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

Sun, Jun 24, 2018 - Page 3

A coalition of labor rights groups yesterday demonstrated in front of the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei (AmCham) and burned the organization’s Taiwan White Paper to protest its call for another amendment to the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法).

In the paper published on June 6, AmCham advised the government to allow more flexible working hours for professionals.

Labor rights advocates yesterday afternoon marched from Ketagalan Boulevard to the chamber’s office on Minsheng E Road in Taipei.

The two previous amendments have seriously affected workers’ rights, they said.

While the chamber’s suggestion mainly targets white-collar professionals, further relaxation of work hour rules would affect blue-collar and migrant workers, Taiwan International Workers’ Association member Hsu Chun-huai (許淳淮) said.

Workers should not be exploited for businesses to remain competitive, Hsu added.

If AmCham has anything to say about the labor law, it should ask its member businesses to obey the nation’s laws first, Micron Technology Inc (美光科技) workers’ union chairperson Feng Tse-yuan (馮澤源) said, adding that the company has been requiring employees to work overtime.

After being laid off by Micron last year, Feng said he has still been unable to get a reasonable explanation from the Ministry of Labor.

The demonstrators set fire to a copy of the chamber’s white paper, but the flame, struggling in the afternoon drizzle, was soon put out by police.

They also urged people to sign their petitions for two referendum proposals.

One demands that the government scrap the regulations on relaxing work hours and reducing overtime pay that came into effect in March, while the other asks that the Legislative Yuan establish a national holiday act to ensure a minimum of 19 national holidays each year.

Having anticipated the protest, AmCham issued a statement on Friday, which said that more flexible work hours for professionals would make Taiwan more competitive.

While the labor act should protect and promote workers’ rights, professionals and managerial personnel need more flexibility in arranging their work hours and venues, it added.

New regulations have ensured the security and flexibility of both employers and employees in the workplace, the ministry said in a statement yesterday.

If new regulations are abolished, the minimum 11-hour rest period between work shifts and other beneficial regulations would be canceled as well, it said, calling on people to be more careful with their referendum proposals.