Protests in Taiwan against legislation to slash public holidays

Author: PM editorial | Date: 1 Nov 2016

”We take to the streets because the whole nation is overworked,” says trade union leader

Around 3,000 protestors from labour groups in Taiwan protested at the main gates of the Yuan Legislature this week against a controversial workweek bill.
 
Under the new legislation, pushed through parliament by the Democratic Progessive Party (DPP), seven public holidays could be removed from the calendar.
 
The protests were organised by the 123 League, named because workers in Taiwan are currently entitled to 123 days off each year when weekends, public holidays and annual leave are taken into account.
 
The DPP wants to implement a five-day working week with one fixed day off and one ‘flexible rest day’ at the expense of seven public holidays. This would mean 12 days’ public holiday in Taiwan instead of the current 19.
 
During the demonstration, eggs were thrown at the Yuan Legislature and a small number of protestors spray-painted slogans on a building in the grounds.
 
“Our main demand is rejecting the elimination of seven mandatory holidays,” Huang Song-ju, representative of the Trade Union of Electrical, Electronic And Information, told the China Post. “Labourers [who often work 10 hour days instead of the standard eight] should reserve the right to keep the seven mandatory holidays.”
 
“We take to the streets today not because people in a particular line of work are infuriated, but because the whole nation is overworked,” Taipei City Confederation of Trade Unions director Cheng Ya-hui told the Tapei Times.
 
There were also clashes in parliament between opposing MPs over the bill. Some have argued for a fixed two-day weekend as an alternative.
 
Earlier this year, the government debated the possibility of changes to a six-day working week that is in place for certain professions, meaning some employees could be asked to work 12 days in a row.