•Source： Taiwan Today
•By Kwangyin Liu
Hundreds of protesters gathered in downtown Taipei City May 1 demanding improved workplace safety and better protection of labor rights.
The crowd of laborers, medical personnel, temporary workers, unionists and college students used International Workers’ Day to raise issues including irregular shifts, overwork, stagnant wages, skyrocketing housing prices and unfair tax schemes.
“The use of dispatch workers should be prohibited across all sectors,” said Shih Chao-hsien, president of the Taiwan Confederation of Trade Unions, calling the common practice of replacing full-time employees with temporary ones a compromise of labor rights. Taiwan has around 600,000 dispatch workers, sources said.
The TCTU also urged authorities to better monitor working conditions to avoid work-related injuries. “The Legislature should approve revisions to the Labor Safety and Health Act and the bill protecting workers with occupational injuries as soon as possible,” he added.
Echoing recent online criticism from a Taiwanese nurse on the inhumanely long shifts in hospitals, medical workers also spoke out. “As a result of personnel shortages, many doctors and nurses are required to work up to 120 hours per week, more than twice what is allowed by labor laws,” a protestor said. “This is no way to provide high-quality medical care.”
Housing prices and workers’ pay also came under attack. “While our average wages have remained fixed over the past decade, real estate prices have nearly doubled,” said Peng Yang-kai, spokesman for the Social Housing Promotion Alliance.
In response to the demands, the Council of Labor Affairs said in a news release that it will continue to monitor working conditions and push for a special act to regulate the use of dispatch workers.