MUCH TALK:DPP lawmakers agreed not to railroad the bill during its third reading and to conduct more discussion, but the act is still expected to pass before the end of the year
By Lee Hsin-fang / Staff reporter
Members of labor organizations protest outside the legislature in Taipei on Friday, vowing to go on a hunger strike to protest the government’s determination to reduce the number of national holidays.
Photo: Chang Chia-ming, Taipei Times
In light of labor groups’ protests, including a hunger strike, a controversial amendment to the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法) that would see the implementation of workers having“one fixed day and one mandatory rest day off” are unlikely to be passed by the legislature on Tuesday.
The Executive Yuan has been pushing the amendment to standardize the number of days off in all industries and had expected the amendment to be passed on Tuesday.
However, government leaders have postponed the passage of the controversial bill, saying it would spark greater disputes if the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus railroads it through.
An Executive Yuan official yesterday said on condition of anonymity that the bill “does not have to be passed next Tuesday,” but it could be passed “any time before the end of the year.”
The official said the Executive Yuan has expressed goodwill toward labor groups and opposition parties, saying that the government is willing to engage in more discussion.
The government has suggested another provision that would allow workers with fewer service years to take annual leave earlier that they are currently allowed, the official said.
The official said that the Executive Yuan hopes that the legislative caucuses would negotiate over annual leave conditions, which is the point of the amendment.
The legislative speaker’s podium was again occupied by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus on Friday due to the standoff over the amendment.
Labor rights advocates on Friday launched a hunger strike in protest at what they said had amounted to DPP lawmakers ramming the review through a committee meeting last month.
DPP leaders have reached a “tacit agreement” that the bill would not be passed on Tuesday, saying that there would be high hurdles to jump before the third reading of the bill.
The official said the Executive Yuan had expected that the third reading would be held on Tuesday, but on Tuesday last week it said that workers who are entitled to days off on the Oct. 31, Nov. 12 and Dec. 25 national holidays would lose those days off if the bill were accepted and put into effect on Jan. 1.
The official said that while the DPP, with its majority in the legislature, could railroad the bill through, “we do not want the public to believe that the DPP government is one that is opposed to communication.”
That is why the government and top party officials have said that while they would still push to pass the bill as soon as possible, if it is done before the end of the year, that would give them enough time to consult with people of differing opinions and complete the legislative process, the official said.