7 holidays to be eliminated next year

By Stephanie Chao, The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Amendments to the Labor Standards Act passed a third legislative reading on Tuesday, after a day of gridlocked legislative proceedings that saw lawmakers wrangling to occupy the podium. President Tsai Ing-wen thanked the Executive Yuan and Legislature for their “time and effort” after the bill was passed. Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers used their majority to push the controversial labor bill into a second legislative reading Tuesday afternoon, after voting to extend the plenary session. Despite objections from opposition parties during clause-by-clause votes on the bill, some of the most contested portions still passed. These included Article 36 of the Labor Standards Act, more commonly known as the “one flexible, one fixed day off” clause, which allows employers to force workers to report to work on one of their two designated days off.

Amendments to Article 37, which eliminates seven national holidays, also passed. The changes are set to go into effect next year. KMT Legislator Johnny Chiang called Tuesday “not only the darkest, but also the most depressing day for workers.” A majority of KMT lawmakers arrived at the general assembly room at around 7 a.m. Tuesday morning to occupy the rostrum, forcing cross-party negotiations over the start of proceedings. A Gridlocked Legislature Party representatives were engaged in these negotiations through late afternoon. The KMT lawmakers’ position on the rostrum was eventually usurped after cross-party negotiations fell through and DPP lawmakers swarmed the podium. KMT and DPP lawmakers scuffled over the microphone on the rostrum, with several female KMT lawmakers shouting “men, don’t touch me.” Legislators were reportedly injured to varying degrees during the fracas, though some declined immediate medical attention in order to participate in the proceedings.

DPP lawmaker Wu Ping-jui sought treatment for injuries sustained during the melee — but only after voting on key clauses of the amendment, said DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming. KMT lawmaker Lin Li-chan also sought medical attention after dislocating her right arm in a brawl with DPP lawmaker Su Chiao-hui, local media reported.