DPP’s bid to pass labor bill thwarted

By Yuan-Ming Chiao ,The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — The ruling party’s attempt to push through controversial amendments to the Labor Standards Act in the Legislature Friday was thwarted after fierce resistance from protesters outside the lawmaking body in Taipei.

Protesters vowed to continue their struggle against the bill, which is slated for review in the Legislature next Tuesday. The day began with Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers attempting to use their majority to push a bill that would cut seven statutory holidays toward a second and third reading.

The move prompted dozens of labor union activists to set up a protest base at the Legislative Yuan’s entrance facing Zhenjiang Street.

Tension was palpable as a 700-strong police force blocked off access to all building entrances. Labor union groups said they were from Greater Taipei, Taoyuan, Hsinchu and Yunlin. Lawmaker Attacked The standoff brewed into an outright fracas during lunchtime recess. Enraged protesters spotted DPP Caucus Whip Ker Chien-ming attempting to get past police and sprinted after him, knocking him to the pavement in the process.

After Ker was escorted away safely, protesters led by a van moved toward a police cordon, yelling, “Don’t ax the seven (holi)days”and throwing smoke bombs before stopping their advance.

Condemning the violence as “the end of democracy” in Taiwan, Ker told reporters minutes later that he was fine but that some had attempted to strangle him from behind, while others kicked and hit him. His party also released a statement condemning the “violent” actions of the protesters. One man was apprehended for throwing a water bottle at Ker. Labor activists speaking at the protest site would have none of it, however, accusing the DPP government of turning a blind eye to labor issues and cozying up to big business in their moves to ramrod the bill through committee.

Meanwhile on the floor of the Legislature, the opposition party moved to occupy the rostrum, accusing the DPP of “majoritarian violence.” Attempts at interparty negotiations between the DPP and KMT proved fruitless, leading to Legislative Speaker Su Jia-chyuan calling a recess to end the session before the labor bill could advance to a third reading.