Saturday, January 14, 2017

Protesters urge no holiday cuts till leave reform

Protesters urge no holiday cuts till leave reform

By Abraham Gerber  /  Staff reporter

Civic groups including the Taiwan Association of Human Rights and the Taiwan Tongzhi (LGBT) Hotline Association yesterday rally outside the legislature in Taipei to protest against the government’s proposal to cut the number of national holidays.

Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times

A reduction in the number of national holiday should be put on hold until reforms to annual leave regulations have been specified, labor rights campaigners said yesterday at a protest outside the Legislative Yuan in Taipei.
More than a dozen demonstrators from several labor unions and civic groups gathered in front of a tent where protesters have been on hunger strike for almost a month.
“If you’re really going to reduce the number of national holidays, you should at least put forward an entire plan and clearly explain your reasoning,” Taiwan Association of Human Rights member Wang Hsi (王曦) said.
Seven national holidays would be cut under a proposed amendment to the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法) aimed at reducing working hours.
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has proposed increasing the number of days of annual leave for newly employed workers as partial compensation for the reduction, but the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus chose not to specify the extent of those increases in cross-caucus negotiations on Wednesday, drawing criticism from rival caucuses.
“If they haven’t even considered how annual leave will be reformed, reducing the number of national holidays will just make working conditions worse,” Workers Struggle Alliance member Kuo Kuan-chun (郭冠均) said.
Kuo accused DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) of failing to ensure that workers would be guaranteed extra annual leave or receive compensation.
“Ker’s language was copied directly from the Ministry of Labor regulations,” he said. “There should be provisions requiring that workers automatically be awarded extra salary for any unused leave, unlike the current rules which require employees to demonstrate that their employers prevented them from taking the days off.”
Taoyuan Confederation of Trade Unions chairman Chuang Fu-kai (莊福凱) also criticized Ker’s statement that failing to pass the amendments by the end of the year would constitute a “breach of duty.”
“This just shows who [the DPP’s] real ‘bosses’ are — industrial and business associations,” Chuang said, before leading protesters in promising to “fight to the end” against the cuts to national holidays.

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