Saturday, March 25, 2017

Police, firefighters must be able to unionize: advocates

Police, firefighters must be able to unionize: advocates

By Abraham Gerber  /  Staff reporter

From left, National Chengchi University law professor Lin Chia-ho, New Power Party Legislator Hsu Yung-ming and National Association for Firefighters director Lan Yu-chieh at a news conference held yesterday in Taipei call for firefighters and police officers to be allowed to form unions.

Photo: CNA

Police and firefighters should be allowed to form unions, New Power Party (NPP) Legislator Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明) said yesterday, announcing a proposal to include both professions under the Labor Union Act (工會法).
“The Civil Servant Association Act (公務員協會法) has castrated firefighters’ and police’s right to negotiate,” Hsu said, citing provisions in the act that deny the right to demand labor talks to firefighters’ and police officers’ associations.
Both professions are governed by the Civil Servant Association Act, due to provisions in the Labor Union Act forbidding the formation of unions by civil servants, with the sole exception of teachers.
“Police and firefighters have just as much right to form unions as teachers, and by revising the Labor Union Act, we want to give that right,” Hsu said, citing similarities between working conditions for firefighters, police officers and ordinary workers.
Representatives of police officers’ and firefighters’ rights associations said formal organization was needed to force the government to negotiate key issues such as understaffing and long working hours.
“For any issue, from demanding normal shifts to reducing workload, we can only protest outside the National Police Administration in the heat, wind and rain, because we do not have the right to demand negotiations,” said Wu Tsung-che (吳宗哲), an executive director of the Taiwan Policemen’s Work Rights Promotion Association.
“We want the right to strike as a final resort, but the content of that right can be negotiated,” said Lan Yu-chieh (藍毓傑), a director at the National Association for Firefighters’ Rights, adding that firefighters are required to be on duty for at least 360 hours per month.
“The right to strike is separate from the right to organize,” National Chengchi University law professor Lin Chia-ho (林佳和) said, adding that a limited right to strike could also be granted without threatening basic social services.
“The right to strike is not all or nothing,” he said, citing provisions within the Act for Settlement of Labor-Management Disputes (勞資爭議處理法) which mandate that minimum or essential services be provided during strikes that affect hospitals, utilities and other basic services.

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