Saturday, July 30, 2016

Protesters call for Cabinet to cancel holiday cutbacks

Protesters call for Cabinet to cancel holiday cutbacks

By Abraham Gerber  /  Staff reporter

Demonstrators under tarps on which the Chinese character for “exhausted” are written lie on a street outside the Legislative Yuan in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times

The Executive Yuan should withdraw draft amendments to the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法), labor campaigners said yesterday in a protest outside the Legislative Yuan in Taipei, as the summer’s first extraordinary session drew to a close.
The protests followed the Executive Yuan’s submission of draft amendments to the legislature for review.
Sweltering heat did not deter more than 100 protesters from lying on the pavement of a road bordering the Legislative Yuan, forming the Chinese characters for “123 days off.”
They covered themselves with tarps and umbrellas emblazoned with the Chinese character for lei (累, exhausted), with splotches of red paint on the covers symbolizing the “blood and sweat” of workers.
They shouted for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to withdraw proposed amendments and “return” seven national holidays.
“As laborers, we are only able to use our bodies to highlight how unfair this policy is for us,” Workers Struggle Alliance member Mao Chen-fei (毛振飛) said.
The seven national holidays have previously been observed by workers who did not have a five-day workweek, but the Ministry of Labor plans to eliminate them following the passage of new amendments, which raise overtime pay for working on a newly established weekly “flexible rest day.”
All workers already have one weekly “fixed day off,” on which working is almost entirely forbidden, except in special circumstances, such as a disaster or emergency.
“[President] Tsai [Ing-wen (蔡英文)] promised to cut working hours for workers as part of her election platform, but what her administration is doing is cutting seven national holidays while pushing a fake five-day workweek,” Workers Struggle Alliance member Chen Ming-chen (陳姳臻) said, adding that the groups plan to stage protests next month prior to the legislature’s next extraordinary session.
While the new amendments were initially slated to pass this week, consideration was halted last week after the DPP coconvener of the legislative committee in question chose not to open a review session on the proposed amendments, preventing the meeting from being held.
Workers Struggle Alliance member Kuo Kuan-chun (郭冠均) criticized remarks by Tsai on Thursday, in which she promised to guarantee workers’ rights while striking a balance between the interests of workers and businesses.
“She already made similar statements before the election. What we expect is something more substantial: the withdrawal of the proposal to cut national holidays while mandating two ‘fixed days off’ each week to truly realize a five-day workweek,” he said.

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