Labor groups protest amid review of labor law revisions (update) - Focus Taiwan

Labor groups protest amid review of labor law revisions (update)

Taipei, Nov. 23 (CNA) Nearly 100 labor group members rallied outside the Legislature compound in Taipei Thursday to protest a draft amendment to the Labor Standards Act as lawmakers reviewed the bill.

After gathering in front of the Legislative Yuan, the protesters marched around the building and clashed with police near a gate to the complex on Qingdao East Road when some hurled eggs and attempted to force their way inside, only to be pushed back by police.

During the march, they shouted slogans calling for a halt to the Cabinet's proposed changes to the labor law which they claimed could result in employees being forced to work long hours.

The proposed revisions will increase the number of days employees can legally work without a break from six to 12, if they take off a mandatory day off either side of the 12-day period.

The protesters also demanded the restoration of seven public holidays that were cut from the yearly holiday schedule in the previous revision of the labor law.

Barricades were set up and about 450 police mobilized.

During the demonstration, some protesters tried to climb the fence into the Legislative Yuan and at one point dragged the barricades away.

Meanwhile, police arrested nine labor activists and youth representatives who spray painted President Tsai Ing-wen's (蔡英文) official residence, the Executive Yuan and other government buildings in protest of the draft labor law earlier that day.

Inside the Legislative Yuan, the review of the bill was slow as New Power Party Legislator Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明) obstructed the process by occupying the chairman's podium in the legislative chamber, citing a procedural flaw in the Nov. 20 review of the bill by the Legislature's Economics Committee and the Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee.

He insisted the Nov. 20 review session was invalid and argued with Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lin Ching-yi (林靜儀), who chaired the review session.

A clause-by-clause review of the bill did not go well in the afternoon due to opposition lawmakers' filibuster of proceedings.

When Lin declared a vote to decide whether to allow each legislator to make lengthy statements, the ruling Democratic Progressive Party caucus unexpectedly lost the vote battle 9-10.

In ensuing ruling-opposition tussles, opposition Kuomintang legislators took hold of the podium. Lin eventually called off the meeting at 5:32 p.m.

The earliest resumption of the committee meeting will be Dec. 4, meaning it is unlikely the government's amendment bill can clear the legislative floor by year-end.

The protesting labor activists were happy they seemed to have scored a temporary victory but they vowed to continued their protest on Dec. 4.

(By Huang Li-yun, Wang Cheng-chung and Evelyn Kao)


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