DPP agrees to meet students, workers over holiday issue

The ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) agreed Tuesday to meet student and labor representatives at a public hearing Nov. 15 over a controversial bill that has angered labor unions and the party’s student supporters.

Four of the seven union representatives continued an ongoing hunger strike in protest at the ruling party’s plan to cut seven national holidays from the calendar.

One of the union members, Kuo Kuan-chun (郭冠均), said the other three protesters discontinued their hunger strike at 7 p.m. Tuesday after 100 hours, but vowed that the other four would continue until their demands were met.

The seven union representatives launched the hunger strike Nov. 4 over a proposed amendment to the Labor Standards Act that would reduce the number of national holidays from 19 to 12 per year.

The amendment bill, which cleared the legislative Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee Oct. 5, proposes a five-day workweek with one mandatory day off and one “flexible rest day.”

Labor rights groups, however, argue that the DPP is reneging on a promise it made not to remove the seven holidays from the calendar.

Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘), a DPP legislative caucus whip, said it was regrettable that the bill has created such a big controversy and that his party has failed to have a “rational dialogue with the students.”

Promising to “reflect on ourselves,” the DPP caucus has reached a consensus with opposition party caucuses to examine the video and voice records of the Oct. 5 committee meeting, the validity of whose conclusion has been questioned.

Opposition lawmakers have jeered at DPP Legislator Chen Ying (陳瑩), who chaired the chaotic committee meeting, for announcing the bill approved within one minute.

Ker insisted that the meeting went on for 16 minutes and was covered by the media, as “all of the records, in paper or in digital files, can testify.”

But when the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) caucus suggested that a “fair and neutral” third party from the Bureau of Investigation should help examine the validity of the meeting minutes, Ker refused, on the grounds of “parliamentary autonomy.”

Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌), a lawmaker of the minor opposition New Power Party, said the date of the public hearing should not be set until the examination of the committee meeting minutes has been completed.

Ker insisted that the all-party examination of the minutes will take place Nov. 9 and that the public hearing will be held Nov. 15.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel

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