Workers to march on Labor Day for more paid time off

TAIPEI (CNA) – Over 5,000 workers are expected to take to the streets of Taipei in a Labor Day march on May 1 to call for more holidays and paid time off and better protection of their rights, the organizers said yesterday.

The protesters will gather on Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office and march past the Ministry of Labor and Legislative Yuan, before returning to the starting point, according to the organizers, an action coalition of worker groups and unions.

The workers will demand more public holidays, an increase in maternity leave from 60 days to 90 days, and the enactment of legislation that would allow employees to take leave without pay for long-term care of family members, the organizers said.

The protesters will also call for better protection of workers’ rights, suggesting, for example, that businesses with fewer than four employees be required to provide labor insurance coverage, according to the organizers.

Chuang Chueh-an (莊爵安), chairman of the Taiwan Confederation of Trade Unions and one of the main organizers, said working conditions in Taiwan have worsened over the past few years.

In 2017, the average number of work hours a year per employee was 2,035 in Taiwan, compared with 1,744 hours in countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which indicated that employees in Taiwan were working 36 days per year more than people in other countries, according to Chuang.

Despite the longer work hours, the basic monthly wage in Taiwan was lower than the OECD average, an indication that Taiwan’s corporate employers were unwilling to share their business profits with their employees, Chuang said, adding that low salaries also impact retirees’ income.

Commenting on the May 1 march, Labor Minister Hsu Ming-chun (許銘春) said Tuesday that the ministry respects the coalition and usually incorporates the labor groups’ appeals into its administrative goals.

By Wu Hsin-yun, Yu Hsiao-han and Evelyn Kao