DISADVANTAGEOUS:One labor rights advocate said Teachers’ Day coinciding with a typhoon day denied them an opportunity to show concerns are overblown
By Abraham Gerber / Staff reporter
Two contested national holidays are likely to be observed next month, labor rights advocates said yesterday, adding that the government has run out time to push through preventive legal changes, even as they appeared divided over the extent to which yesterday’s typhoon day coinciding with Teachers’ Day would affect their cause.
“The typhoon day should not have much of an effect, and we will keep up the fight,” Taoyuan Confederation of Trade Unions chairman Chuang Fu-kai (莊福凱) said, adding that many people would still be able to enjoy an additional day off under directives from local governments.
While the Ministry of Labor said that yesterday’s typhoon day would not entitle workers to an extra compensatory day off, some local governments have adopted different legal interpretations, he said.
Teachers’ Day — which is technically a commemoration of Confucius’ (孔子) birthday — was observed due to the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislative caucus’ failure to pass amendments to the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法) last month, when DPP Legislator Lin Shu-fen (林淑芬), a convener of the legislature’s Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee, refused to convene a review.
Lin has since been replaced, with DPP legislators Chen Ying (陳瑩) and Wu Yu-chin (吳玉琴) serving as the conveners for the new legislative session.
Following the passage last year of amendments to the act aimed at guaranteeing a 40-hour workweek, the ministry had attempted to abolish several national holidays by executive order, but was prevented from doing so by a committee resolution, leaving the holidays unchanged until new amendments to the law are passed.
“There is not enough time, because the budget and nominations to the Council of Grand Justices are more important,” Chuang said, referring to an Oct. 15 legal deadline for an official announcement to be made to cancel the observation of Retrocession Day on Oct. 25.
Chiang Kai-shek’s (蔣介石) birthday is also likely to be observed on Oct. 31, unless amendments are passed, he added.
“It would be very difficult for amendments to be passed in time to nullify the October holidays, because even after they pass an initial committee review, they would still be subject to month-long ‘cross-caucus negotiations’ before a final vote,” Workers’ Struggle Alliance member Lu Chyi-horng (盧其宏) said, adding that a budget review would also likely push the committee review of amendments into November.
“The typhoon day was relatively disadvantageous to our cause, because we have not had the opportunity to prove that critics’ concerns are overblown, but there should still be plenty of opportunities in the future,” he said.
Different holiday schedules for private-sector and government workers have been a key point of contention in the debate. Public-school teachers and other government employees were ineligible to have Teachers’ Day off before a typhoon day was declared.