Thursday, November 26, 2015

Activists promise to continue labor campaign

Activists promise to continue labor campaign

By Abraham Gerber  /  Staff reporter

Labor activists hold up a large chart to show which political parties have signed to support proposed labor reforms during a street protest in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Huang Pang-ping, Taipei Times

The nation’s two major political parties have refused to present a labor platform, labor activists said yesterday, promising to escalate protests until the presidential candidates make their policies clear.
Activists from the National Alliance for Workers of Closed Factories, Taoyuan Confederation of Trade Unions and other labor groups brandished hammers as they gathered along Ketagalan Boulevard, yelling that both the pan-blue and pan-green political camps pander to corporations.
Representatives used a sledgehammer to crush a “black box” of opaque policymaking, from which activists wearing masks emblazoned with the faces of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Eric Chu (朱立倫) and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) had earlier drawn slips of paper bearing the name of anti-labor policies such as “cutting worker holidays” and “eliminating capital gains taxes on investments,” which activists said both major parties have supported.
They promised to “struggle” with presidential candidates until they made clear their positions on pension reform, long-term care, political strikes, government employment of contract workers, as well as the labor conditions of medical and emergency personnel.
Activist said that yesterday marked the half-way point between the Jan. 16 presidental and legislative elections and when demands for each of the five issues were announced early last month.
National Alliance for Workers of Closed Factories member Lu Chih-hung (盧其宏) said that both Chu and Tsai had met the demands with silence, despite repeated protests and forums.
“Throughout this process, the large parties — as well as the Taiwan Solidarity Union, the Rublic Party and the People First Party — have not shown the slightest willingness to take a position,” he said, adding that the activists had only received responses from small parties, such as the New Power Party (NPP) and Green Party-Social Democratic Party (SDP) Alliance.
“We are angry because it is time to elect a president, but the two major political parties have not staked any position on pensions and long-term care policy, which will have huge effect on more than 20 million people,” said National Alliance for Workers of Closed Factories member Mao Chen-fei (毛振飛) said, adding that policy choices in both areas were critical as the nation’s population rapidly ages.
Activists said they would follow candidates “like a shadow,” escalating protests until they received a response, adding that they would hold a march the weekend prior to the elections.
DPP spokesperson Juan Chao-hsiung (阮昭雄) said that the party would instigate a reform project through organizing a pension reform commission consisting of academics and representatives from employers, employees and government agencies to research potential pension reform plans, hold a national conference to discuss the commission’s conclusions and make legislation according to the conclusions made by the conference.
As for long-term care policy, the DPP would seek to create quality, inexpensive, community-based long-term care system, while improving work conditions for carers, Juan said.
As for the improvement of overall working conditions, Juan said that the DPP would support workers’ right to solidarity and would boost prevention of work injuries, the liberalization of union organizations, as well as expand union representation.

“As for the [former] freeway toll collectors, the DPP legislative caucus has made several requests to the Ministry of Transportation and Communications to shoulder its responsibilities, and has asked local governments headed by the DPP to help the former toll collectors find new jobs,” Juan said.

Additional reporting by Loa Iok-sin

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