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Labor law amendment pushed forward amid chaos

2017/12/04 23:22:12

Taipei, Dec. 4 (CNA) The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was blasted by opposition lawmakers for failing to observe legislative procedures during a review of a controversial labor law amendment that began on Monday.

Wanting to put the amendment to the Labor Standards Act into effect early next year, the DPP hoped to push it through a legislative committee review by Thursday at the latest to pave the way for its passage by Dec. 31.

Eventually, two of the eight revisions were approved when the DPP decided just before 10 p.m. to pass the last six revisions in the amendment as package, in effect ramming them through committee without discussion.

The measures will now be sent for "cross-party consultations," which can last up to a month, after which the amendment can be brought to a vote by the full Legislature.

During the process, the lights in the committee room went out for about 60 seconds, adding to the bizarre day.

Earlier, the scheduled daytime meeting saw lawmakers jostle and scuffle and shove the speaker from the podium before ending at 6:30 p.m. It was resumed after a 30-minute break for a night session that was originally scheduled to run until midnight.

The bill with several revisions aimed at increasing flexibility in working hours is already highly controversial and strongly opposed by some labor groups.

But the situation was made worse during the daytime session when DPP Legislator Lin Ching-yi (林靜儀), the committee's convener, said the time allotted to each lawmaker to ask questions on each of the eight proposed articles would be no more than six minutes.

Lin was questioned by one after another opposition lawmaker from the podium for "overstepping her authority" as a convener to decide on the time allotment.

Lin did not respond to their concerns, telling them instead that they should "treasure" their time to ask questions about the amendments.

Kuomintang (KMT) Legislator Chiang Wan-an (蔣萬安) and New Power Party lawmaker Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明), who refused to leave the podium after their given time was up, were pulled out of the conference room by DPP lawmakers.

KMT Legislator Wang Yu-min (王育敏) said that there was no provision in written legislative procedures that imposes such a limit.

Wang cited the example of DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming, (柯建銘) who spent a whole day speaking from the podium to block one single article in the Agricultural Development Act when he was an opposition lawmaker.

"Did we change the legislature's book of procedures?" Wang said to Ker, who stood next to her. Ker did not respond.

KMT Legislator Lin Te-fu (林德福) said the DPP has changed its tune from when it was an opposition party because it is now a ruling party.

A DPP lawmaker shouted to Lin that the six-minute slot was decided by a vote, to which Lin shouted back: "That's tyranny of the majority. That's why we were angry."

(By Shih Hsiu-chuan)
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