New Power Party caucus whip Hsu Yung-ming demands the Ministry of Labor restore the number of national holidays to 19 days for workers yesterday at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei.
The legislative general assembly yesterday approved the Health and Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee’s resolution to return the Ministry of Labor’s proposed amendment to the Enforcement Rules of the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法施行細則) that called for a reduction of the number of national holidays as days off from 19 to 12 to be corrected or abolished.
The ministry’s proposed amendments were made as a supporting measure for the newly legislated 40-hour workweek. They have drawn criticism from both labor groups and lawmakers since they were announced last year.
The legislature subjected the amendments to the enforcement rules — an executive order in this case that would be referred to the legislature for future reference or a substantive review by the legislative committee, if the legislature decides so — to a committee review in January, which resolved that the amendment should be sent back to the ministry for correction or abolition on March 28.
The resolution passed by the committee stated then that while the “central competent authority” in Article 37 of the Labor Standards Act — which stipulates that a worker “shall be granted recess on all holidays, the Labor Day and other days prescribed by the Central Competent Authority” — indicates the labor ministry, it is the Ministry of the Interior that is the designated competent authority in the draft legislation concerning days of commemoration that is now under review.
The committee also accused the labor ministry of violating the mother law, the Labor Standards Act, by revising the enforcement rules to grant the labor ministry the right to arbitrarily decide what days should be counted as days off for workers.
According to the Act Governing the Exercise of Legislative Power (立法院職權行使法), the executive order would automatically cease to be valid with the Executive Yuan’s inaction two months after the legislature’s notification calling for a correction or abolition.
New Power Party caucus whip Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明) said after the general assembly’s approval of the committee’s resolution that the amendments were supposed to mandate the 40-hour workweek to alleviate overwork, but the amendment proposal has at the same time reduced holidays and extended the permitted overtime.
“However, the Minister of Labor [Chen Hsiung-wen (陳雄文)], despite the public furor toward the change, nevertheless made ideological remarks during the committee review, saying that if [the lawmakers and the protesters] do not identify with the seven holidays to be cut, why do they need to be days off?” Hsu said.
“This is a remark that has absolutely overlooked the ministry’s responsibility to protect workers’ rights,” Hsu said.
The said holidays include Taiwan Retrocession Day (Oct. 25), Chiang Kai-shek’s (蔣介石) birthday (Oct. 31) and the day that saw the Republic of China Constitution’s first implementation (Dec. 25).