Taipei, Jan. 6 (CNA) Five opposition New Power Party (NPP) legislators continued a hunger strike outside the Presidential Office on Saturday, calling for the draft amendments to the Labor Standards Act to be withdrawn.
The legislators, namely NPP Executive Chairman Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌), caucus convener Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明), Kawlo Iyun Pacidal, Hung Tsu-yung (洪慈庸) and Freddy Lim (林昶佐), started the hunger strike at 6 p.m. Friday in wet, chilly weather and have said they will continue as long as possible.
They are calling for President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), Premier Lai Ching-te (賴清德), and ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers to withdraw a bill to amend the labor law.
The main issues of contention are proposed changes to the law that would allow employees work 12 days in a row, as opposed to the current rule of a mandatory day off in any seven-day period, and a reduction of the stipulated rest time between shifts from 11 hours to eight.
On a directive from Tsai, Presidential Office Secretary-General Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) spoke with the lawmakers Saturday morning, urging them to return to the negotiation table.
Wu said all parties are concerned about the rights of workers and are hoping that the amendments will allow better benefits for employees.
The Presidential Office, therefore, is urging the five NPP legislators to return to the Legislature to review the amendments and help figure out the best proposals for workers, Wu said.
NPP lawmakers on Friday locked the doors to the legislative chamber to prevent review of the labor law amendment bill.
Hsu said they will continue their hunger strike outside the Presidential Office but will send a representative to the Legislature on Monday to participate in the review process, if the bill has not been withdrawn by then.
Meanwhile, Liao Tsai-chen (廖材楨), head of the Zhongzheng First Precinct, said the police have warned the protesters four times to move from in front of the Presidential Office and will continue to keep a close eye on the situation.
Some 200 policemen have been stationed in the area since the protest began, as unauthorized gatherings in or around the Presidential Office complex are prohibited under the Assembly and Parade Act, but there have been no efforts so far to remove the protesters, Chen said.
The NPP lawmakers are not the first to protest the labor law amendments.
On Dec. 23, thousands of people, including migrant workers, took to the streets of Taipei to demand that the government withdraw the amendment bill.