Businesspeople want DPP to change labor law to save on costs

Taipei--Businesspeople want the President Tsai Ing-wen (???) administration to change new work rules that took effect less than two months ago, saying that otherwise, the country will face inflation, an exodus of companies, infuriated business owners and unhappy workers.

Chin Chia-hung (???), chairman of the Manufacturers United General Association of Industrial Parks of the Republic of China (MUGA), said Sunday that he will meet with Labor Minister Lin Mei-chu (???) in the coming week to discuss the issue.

Lai Cheng-i (???), chairman of the General Chamber of Commerce of the Republic of China (GCC), said his organization has arranged to meet with 10-20 lawmakers of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in the first week of March.

Tsai ordered the adjustment of the new work rules in a meeting with businesspeople on Feb. 14, and former Labor Minister Kuo Fong-yu (???) has resigned because he did not deal with the issue properly to begin with, said Chin.

A national conference on industrial development, which is usually held every 3-5 years, will be held in April or May, instead of July or August as originally scheduled, said Chin.

Lin assumed the post of labor minister on Feb. 8, along with three other new ministers.

The Presidential Office neither confirmed nor denied Sunday if Tsai issued such an order, saying instead in a statement that government branches will keep examining related suggestions.

Deputy Labor Minister Kuo Kuo-wen (???) told reporters that he was unaware of Tsai giving any such order.

The new work rules went into force on Dec. 23 last year after the DPP legislators passed amendments to the Labor Standard Act in the face of opposition parties' refusal to participate.

Under the new work rules, the total maximum number of working hours has been reduced to 40 hours per week from 84 hours every two weeks as was previously the case, and workers are now entitled to one mandatory day off and one "flexible" rest day per week -- measures that could increase operating costs for employers.

Employers have to pay higher overtime pay if they ask employees to work on their "flexible" day off and must provide a matching day off and overtime pay to employees who are required to work on their mandatory day off.

Meanwhile, a survey of enterprises released Sunday said that all the respondents have seen a rise in their human resources costs, and some 46 percent of them have considered raising the prices of their products or services.

Among the 735 respondent firms, 72.8 percent said their manpower costs have increased by more than 3 percentage points, while 27.2 percent said their costs are up between 1 and 3 percentage points, according to the survey conducted by MUGA, GCC and five other enterprise groups.

In implanting "one mandatory day off per week," 67.4 percent of the respondents said they have difficulty arranging workers' shifts.

About 46 percent said they might consider raising the prices of their products or services by as much as around 10 percent.

In the face of the new work rules, 15.5 percent of the companies polled said they will accelerate automated production, 14.2 percent said they will move their production lines overseas or refer purchase orders to other firms, and 6.2 percent said they will fold their business altogether.

In terms of tactics for dealing with the new work rules, 51.3 percent of the respondents said they have put a cap on overtime work during holidays, 24.4 percent are employing temporary or short-term employees, 15.6 percent are outsourcing work, and 8.8 percent have shortened operating hours during holidays.

The survey was conducted Jan. 20-26 and received 735 valid samples. The surveyors did not supply a margin of error for the poll.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel