Labor organizations yesterday pledged to go ahead with their annual Workers’ Day march, saying they needed to “warn” the incoming government not to sacrifice labor rights.
Representatives from more than 20 labor organizations led by the Taiwan Confederation of Trade Unions gathered on Ketagalan Boulevard in Taipei, saying the new administration would not be on “honeymoon” after it takes office on May 20.
“We are not subordinate to any political party and will continue to fight for our rights,” said Hsinchu County Confederation of Trade Unions president Chan Su-chen (詹素貞), who is to direct this year’s march.
Opposition to potential national pension cuts and a proposed law to regulate contract workers were the main issues in the unions’ demands.
“We labor organizations have never trusted [president-elect] Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) — her roots are corporate,” National Federation of Independent Trade Unions inspector-general Chen Te-liang (陳德亮) said, blasting Tsai for proposing a law to increase regulation of contract workers, who are sometimes used by corporations to skirt labor requirements for formally employed workers.
“If you respect workers, you can absolutely not permit contract labor to continue to exist,” he said, comparing the practice to “sexual harassment” — something which had to be banned outright.
Taoyuan Confederation of Trade Unions chairman Chuang Fu-kai (莊福凱) said that while the details of Tsai’s national pension reforms have yet to be announced, it appears the reforms would include reductions to worker benefits.
“We talked about whether to hold a march this year, because Tsai will not have taken office and normally the march targets the policies of sitting governments,” Tainan County Confederation of Trade Unions secretary-general Huang Yu-te (黃育德) said.
“However, we have discovered that many of the policies we advocate are in total opposition to Tsai’s policies, so we cannot wait until she takes office to start discussing these problems,” Huang said.
He said while concrete policy details have yet to emerge, Cabinet appointments have served to confirm union fears that Tsai would continue President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) labor policies, which labor organizations have criticized for an allegedly pro-capitalist bent.
“It looks as if labor interests are set to be marginalized,” Huang said, adding that the planned appointment of Deputy Minister of Labor Kuo Fan-yu (郭芳煜) as minister of labor showed that Tsai is interested in continuing past policies and was not considering substantial reforms.