Scuffles break out as lawmakers begin review of labor law amendment

2017/12/04 18:23:10 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
Scuffles break out as lawmakers begin review of labor law amendment

Taipei, Dec. 4 (CNA) Hundreds of people on Monday protested outside the Legislature as the controversial amendment to revise work rules and overtime wage rates was scheduled for review by a legislative committee.

The amendment to the Labor Standards Act was proposed by the Executive Yuan on Nov. 9 and makes five major changes to the five-day workweek system the government pushed through last November, taking effect Jan. 1.

Barricades were strategically placed outside the Legislative compound on Sunday while about 700 police officers were deployed to block off the area and form a human wall in front of protesters on Ji'nan Rd.

At 11 a.m., protesters trying to storm the compound hurled eggs at the legislative building and scuffled with police, while clashes broke out as a result of two failed attempts to breach the police cordon.

A major change under the amendment would see employees work 12 days in a row, as opposed to the current rule of a mandatory day off in any seven-day period.

It would also reduce the amount of rest time required between shifts from 11 hours to eight.

Critics have said the amendment would set working conditions in Taiwan back 100 years compared to standards set by the International Labor Organization.

According to Taiwan Higher Education Union Secretary-general Chen Cheng-liang (陳政亮), the International Labor Organization stipulated in 1921 that workers should enjoy a rest period of at least 24 consecutive hours every seven days and in 1924 that there should be a break of at least 10-11 hours between shifts.

In a radio interview earlier this morning, Premier Lai ching-te (賴清德) again defended the proposed revisions, saying he was duty-bound to address the “rigid” workweek rules and the problems caused to both management and workers.

Scuffles also broke out between lawmakers at the Legislature in the morning, sparked by an announcement from Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lin Ching-yi (林靜儀) who chaired the meeting, that each lawmaker would be given four to six minutes to talk from the podium, and other procedural issues.

The review, scheduled to start at 9 a.m, did not begin until after 11 a.m. In the afternoon session, there was a dispute among legislators over whether to end discussions on Article 24 of the amendment, regarding changes to overtime pay rates. A motion was tabled and passed to extend the review to midnight.

(By Shih Hsiu-chuan)

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