Nantou County strongly opposes new work rules

Taipei--Nantou County Magistrate Lin Ming-chen (???) expressed strong opposition Tuesday to the government's new work rules, saying that the new law has resulted in a losing situation for workers, employers and consumers.

Lin, a member of the opposition Kuomintang (KMT), said that after the implementation of the new work rules in late December, he has received complaints from residents in his county.

Lin said that the new work rules have created frustrated business owners, unhappy workers, and infuriated consumers, adding that he has become fed up with the chaos resulting from what he described as "ill-conceived" work rules.

In response to an instruction by Lin for his legal team to study the possibility of ignoring the country's laws, Premier Lin Chuan (??) pointed out that no one is above the law.

The new rules went into force on Dec. 23 last year after legislators from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) 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 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 if they ask employees to work on their "flexible" day off and must provide a matching day off as well as overtime to employees who are required to work on their mandatory day off.

Meanwhile, the new law requires employees to take one day off after working six days in a row, which has stripped them of their chance to work overtime on the seventh day, creating a more rigid working environment.

In addition, to avoid having to pay high overtime, many employers simply hire temporary workers, a move that has cut the income of employees on official payrolls.

Lin said that the tourism industry is Nantou's major income source, so that in the peak seasons during the winter and summer vacations, many tourism businesses in the county, such as amusement parks, face a labor shortage caused by the new work rules.

To workers in the tourism industry of Nantou, Lin said, many of them who want to work longer hours to rake in more overtime pay are no longer able to do so.

Before the new rules took effect, both employees and employers in Nantou's tourism business cooperated with each other very well, since the old regulations gave them flexibility to arrange work schedules, while employers did not have to offer increased overtime to their workers, which, according to Lin, is brewing inflation and hurting consumers.

Lin called for the Cabinet not to intervene too much in the working relations between employers and employees, but to give leeway for both sides to deal with their own work schedule.

Councilors in Nantou from both the ruling DPP and the opposition parties have voiced their support for Lin, saying that the rigid labor law will hamper industrial development.

Taichung Mayor Lin Chia-lung (???) and Chiayi Magistrate Chang Hwa-kuan (???), both of them from the DPP, said that the work rules need to be more flexible.

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (???), an independent, has urged the Cabinet to find a solution to resolve the situation as soon as possible.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel