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Cabinet expected to approve draft revisions to labor law amid protests

2017/11/08 21:36:14

Taipei, Nov. 8 (CNA) The Cabinet is likely to approve draft amendments to Taiwan's labor law on Thursday and send the bill to the Legislature next week, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus said Wednesday, even as protesters were preparing to take to the streets against the amendments the following day.

If everything goes according to plan, the Legislature will complete review of the draft bill by mid-December and pass it as soon as the end of January next year, said Liu Chao-hao (劉櫂豪), leader of the DPP legislative caucus.

The version of the bill now before the Cabinet is the one that has "the greatest consensus," Liu told reporters, referring to a set of draft amendments to the Labor Standards Act, which seek to revise the current workweek and overtime regulations.

The law was amended last year but resulted in dissatisfaction among both employees and employers, which prompted the government to devise a new set of proposals to deal with the thorny labor issues.

One of the major revisions this time is a change to the current rule that stipulates one mandatory day off and one flexible rest day per week and bars employees from working more than six consecutive days without a break.

The latest amendments allow employees to work 12 days in a row once they take one mandatory day off on either end of the 12-day period.

The draft bill also revises the regulations on overtime work, increasing the maximum number of overtime hours per month from 46 to 54 but capping overtime at 138 hours over three months.

On the issue of overtime pay on flex days, the draft bill stipulates that such compensation must be calculated based on the actual amount of time worked rather than on blocks of four or eight hours as is the case at present.

While the Cabinet and lawmakers of the ruling DPP reached an agreement earlier this week on the proposed revisions, labor groups have said the regulations should not be changed again.

In a joint statement issued Wednesday, the labor groups said the pay structure for overtime work on flexible days off should not be revised.

Furthermore, the groups said the current workweek rules should be maintained to guarantee a break of at least 11 hours between work shifts and to ensure that employees are not made to work more than six days in a row without a break.

To drive home their demands, the groups said they are planning to stage a protest in front of the Cabinet building on Thursday, which is expected to draw the participation of about 1,000 people.

Meanwhile, the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) has also taken issue with the proposal to change the regulations on the maximum number of consecutive workdays allowed per week.

KMT lawmaker Chiang Wan-an (蔣萬安) said it will be an infringement on workers' rights and a huge step backwards for labor rights in the country.

The Association of Taiwan Journalists also issued a statement Wednesday, calling for the amendment bill to be scrapped and for President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to honor her campaign promises on the labor issue.

(By Chen Jun-hua, Yu Hsiao-han, Liu Kuan-ting and Kuan-lin Liu)
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