SLIPPERY STREETS: Scuffles between protesters and police left one union leader unconscious, but she returned later, as protesters hurled sandals at the Presidential Office Building
By Ann Maxon / Staff reporter
The Taoyuan Confederation of Trade Unions （TCTU） and other labor rights groups yesterday apologized to the public for disrupting train schedules on Monday, but vowed to continue protesting the draft amendment to the Labor Standards Act （勞動基準法）.
The government had pushed workers to the point where they had to risk their lives lying on train tracks just to be heard, the groups said.
“We are sorry for delaying the trains, but as a passenger you might have only lost an hour, while many workers would lose their health for the rest of their lives because of overwork if the amendment is passed,” TCTU president Chuang Fu-kai （莊福凱） said at a news conference on Ketagalan Boulevard yesterday.
On Monday evening, about a dozen members of workers’ unions and labor rights groups jumped off the third platform for southbound trains at Taipei Railway Station and lay on the tracks to protest the draft amendment.
The protest caused 21 trains to be rescheduled, affecting more than 12,000 passengers. Police charged 15 participants with endangering public safety.
The government has forced workers to resort to this extreme measure by continually ignoring their requests, TCTU secretary Wu Chia-hung （吳嘉浤） said, adding that labor groups have been urging President Tsai Ing-wen’s （蔡英文） administration to withdraw the draft amendment for months, but it has been unwilling to do so.
The labor groups yesterday marched to Ketagalan Boulevard from their tents on Qingdao E Road, where they had spent the night. They stopped at Gongyuan Road, where police had set up fences and lined the road.
“Tsai must immediately withdraw the amendment to put an end to overwork,” protesters shouted while throwing sandals toward the Presidential Office Building. The sandals hit some police officers, which led to a scuffle.
Protesters throughout the day yesterday walked around the Legislative Yuan, from Qingdao E Road to Zhongshan S Road, Zongxiao W Road to Zhenjiang Street and back, stopping by the Presidential Office Building and the Executive Yuan.
During a morning clash with police on Qingdao E Road, Hsinchu County Confederation of Trade Unions secretary-general Fan Yu-mei （范玉梅） was pushed to the ground and lost consciousness. She was sent to a hospital and returned to the protest in the afternoon.
“The amendment would make more employees die from overwork, so labor groups will fight to the end,” Wu said.
The draft amendment would increase the maximum number of consecutive work days from six to 12 and reduce the minimum rest time between shifts from 11 hours to eight, with less overtime pay, he said.
As of press time last night, the protests were still ongoing.
Taoyuan Confederation of Trade Unions members fling sandals toward the Presidential Office Building in Taipei yesterday to protest draft amendments to the Labor Standards Act. Photo: Peter Lo, Taipei Times
Police officers carry a protester away on Monday after members of the Taoyuan Confederation of Trade Unions lay on the tracks at Taipei Railway Station in protest against proposed amendments to the Labor Standards Act. Photo: Huang Yao-cheng, Taipei Times