Defend democracy and labor rights in Taiwan















Defend democracy and labor rights in Taiwan

May 1 Action Coalition, January 8, 2018

May 1 Action Coalition, an alliance of trade unions and other labor-rights advocacy groups, has started a sit-in protest in front of the Legislative Yuan. The protest will last indefinitely, for as long as it takes to make the legislators scrap the latest amendment to the Labor Standard Law proposed by the cabinet of Premier Lai Ching-Te.

The Coalition states:

1. Ongoing social disturbances about the amendment to the Labor Standards Act will not go away. The fundamental reason is that the Democratic Progressive Party administration has twice pushed for anti-worker legislations since it came to power in 2016. The first amendment deprived workers in Taiwan of seven legally-sanctioned holidays. The second one, which we are protest against this time around, shortened the minimum hours between shifts, scrap the rule of one day off for every seven days, increase the upper limit of overtime work, and change the way overtime pay is calculate, all to the benefit of those employers who wants to squeeze their workers even more. The most appalling among them, as we see it, are the provisions to change the rule of “one day off for every seven days” to “two days off after every twelve work days,” and the shortening of minimum time between a workers’ shift from eleven hours to eight. We believe these two amendments to the Labor Standards Act indicate a clear choice of the DPP to lean toward the employers. If passed, this current amendment will exacerbate the badly over-worked and underpaid working conditions facing workers in virtually all sectors in Taiwan. Many social problems will worsen as a result, such as further decreasing of the woefully low birth rate.

2. Sadly, we have also witnessed how the DPP ruthlessly undermines our precious democracy. Its recent use of state violence to stamp out people’s protests violate basic standards befitting a democratic country. 
In the past, the DPP has repeatedly opposed the Assembly and Parade Act of 1988 for its restriction on people’s freedom of expression. Now, the DPP administration is replicating the very same measures it has opposed for decades. It has surrounded official buildings with razor-wire barricades it has banned protest against the presidential office; it violently broke peaceful assembly with force and even use the same violence against lawyers defending people’s legal rights. Without plausible reasons, the administration has now expanded the restricted area for assembly and parade to the vast expanse we have never seen since the lifting of martial law in 1987.
Inside the Legislative Yuan, the DPP physically dragged away dissenting legislators. It abruptly stopped discussion whenever it wants with the majority votes it has. It blatantly disregards existing consultation procedures and silences virtually all disagreements. This is a party that has criticized, since its inception, the KMT’s authoritarian rule. DPP has criticized how the KMT was unable to hear what the people has to say, how the KMT silenced dissents inside the rubber-stamp parliaments it controlled, how the KMT cracked down on people’s freedom of expression with brute force. Now, as we have witnessed with great sadness, the DPP is bringing all these back, after it has tasted the political power the KMT once had.

3. This fight against the DPP’s Labor Standards Acts amendment is not only a fight to defend the most basic subsistence standards of Taiwanese workers, it is also a fight for the preservation of our basic democratic rights. We call upon all DPP politicians: Do not forget what you have been saying before we elected you. Do not forget who voted for you. The people had entrust you with political power; the people can also take it away!

(translated by Hsin Hsing CHEN)

Yibee Huang 攝影



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