Daily Bloom is the shortform blog of New Bloom, covering breaking news events as they occur in real-time. 

Thirty workers charge and occupy the Ministry of Labor after announcement that seven days of vacation would be removed from current national holidays, reducing the amount of days off from 19 days to 12 days. This comes after an amendment to the Labor Standards Act announced by the Legislative Yuan, which would limit the amount of maximum allowable work hours to per week to forty hours per week, with two days off per week as mandatory holiday. Previous legal regulations stipulated maximum allowable work hours of 84 hours per two weeks.

Workers demanded to meet with the Minister of Labor and chanted “Protect our vacations!”. Workers also sprayed in red paint, “Return our vacations” on an elevator in the Ministry of Labor. It appears that workers were eventually dispersed by police and the paint covered up with newspaper.

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The “2016 Workers’ Struggle Against Presidential Candidates (工人鬥總統),” a large labor political action platform consisting of many national level unions, have released the following statement on its official Facebook page:

“This May, the Legislative Yuan passed an amendment 30 to the Basic Labor Law, which the KMT government uses as an achievement for the “universalization of the two-day weekend.” They also use this as an excuse to reduce the 7 day national holidays entitled to the workers by law. If fact, a “40-hour work week” does not automatically equal to a “two-day weekend.” A “reduction of weekly work hours” also does not mean a reduction of working days. As we have furiously discovered, this government has long been in cahoots with the capitalists, and are playing a game of words with the workers. Many workers are not guaranteed a reduction of work times, but are at vulnerable to manipulation of shift times on the part of the employers backed by the government, leading to a higher risk of overwork. Today, Workers’ Struggle has called for an occupation of the Ministry of Labor to fight for the right for workers to properly take holidays and prevent overworking. We demand the Ministry of Labor retract the unjust amendment to Article 37 of the Basic Labor Law, and call for the popular masses to come and support our occupation of the Ministry, until the amendment is retracted.”

If we have seen a number of labor protests in Taiwan as of late, it would appear that this is because of the lead-up to 2016 elections. It is generally known among labor groups that the DPP will probably take the presidency, hence why some recent demonstrations have targeted the DPP moreso than the KMT. However, it would be that labor groups are attempting to foreground labor issues shortly before elections in order to make the public aware of these issues, that politicians would not be able to pretend labor issues do not exist once in office.

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Author: Parson Young and Brian Hioe
Photo Credit: 洪欣慈/UDN
Biography: Parson Young (楊進) is an M.A. student at New York University. He is a member of the International Marxist Tendency

Brian Hioe (丘琦欣) is an M.A. student at Columbia University, a freelance writer on politics and social activism, and an occasional translator. He is a former resident of Taipei, Taiwan.