Gov’t to set up NT$2 bil. fund to safeguard labor interests

The China Post news staff

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Lawmakers of the Kuomintang yesterday proposed to install a new rule to the Labor-Management Dispute Settlement Act allowing the Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) to set up a NT$2 billion fund to better safeguard the interests of workers. Lawmaker Hou Tsai-feng of the KMT raised the proposal at a session held by the Sanitation, Environment and Social Welfare Committee of the Legislative Yuan to screen revisions to the aforementioned act. During the session, some other KMT lawmakers such as Chung Shao-ho, Cheng Ju-feng, and Chao Li-yun also voiced their support for the proposal. Hou said she is also soliciting endorsements from other lawmakers. Hou continued that setting up the NT$2 billion labor interests protection fund was one of the labor policies raised by President-elect Ma Ying-jeou during the presidential election campaigns, and therefore the campaign “check” should be honored without fail.

Hou said if the NT$2 billion is not sufficient, then lawmakers can continue discussion to set an optimal figure.

In response, Kuo Fang-yu, vice chairman of the CLA, said that his council welcomes the proposal, because it can better take care of the interests of workers. CLA statistics indicated that the number of labor-management disputes stood at around 10,000 in 2001, but almost doubled to 19,000 cases in 2007. But workers were usually in a disadvantageous position when applying to settle disputes with management, and were often forced to accept unfair settlement terms or even give up their due interests. Accordingly, President-elect Ma Ying-jeou vowed to set up a fund to better safeguard the interests of workers, such as granting subsidy to workers to support their livelihood during the process of disputes settlement. Meanwhile, CLA’s Kuo said after the NT$2 billion fund is established, workers can apply for subsidies to finance the lawsuit fees, cover arbitration fees, and serve as livelihood allowances for the period of dispute settlement.

So far, Kuo continued, three local governments have set up labor interests funds, including Taipei City’s NT$400 million, Koahsiung City’s NT$550 million, and Taoyuan County NT$100 million.

But after the NT$2 billion fund is inaugurated, the similar resources of local counties and cities can be effectively integrated.