Union eyes $868 million pension fund boost

Union eyes $868 million pension fund boost
Thousands of people took to the streets in the capital Taipei to demand the government raise salaries, shorten work hours and ban temporary hiring in the annual May Day protest jointly organised by dozens of unions and rights groups.

TAIPEI - The Taoyuan Professional Union (TYPU) rallied hundreds of protesters at the Legislative Yuan yesterday, demanding that the government meet their demands regarding fewer labour hours, mandatory weekends and an exclusive system to fund the labour pension budget

The activists said that they hope to see less labour hours and a NT$20 billion (S$868.4 million) yearly budget injection for the labour pension fund instituted by the end of the year.

Chairman of the Taoyuan Professional Union Tseng Jung-hsiang said that in 2013, then-Premier Jiang Yi-huah and the Ministry of Labor had planned to move NT$20 billion to replenish the labour pension fund, which many fear will go bankrupt by 2027, to ensure financial stability over the next 30 years.

Tseng accused the government of never following up on that promise, leading workers to fear that the labour pension fund might go bankrupt in the near future.

Members of the younger generation of workers also expressed concern that they may not be able to receive labour pensions at all in 30 years' time.

"The government cannot fail to fulfil its promises to the nation just because the previous premier and Cabinet resigned," Tseng said.

Taiwan's labour workers remain in the "overworked" category, despite mandatory weekends already implemented for civil servants and public schoolteachers, Tseng said.

He added that current laws mandating that employees' work hours should not exceed eight hours per day or 84 hours bi-weekly have already fallen behind mainland China's laws that mandate a 40-hour work week.

Labor Day March Attracts Thousands of Protesters

Labor workers from all parts of the nation, as well as and unions and labour groups, including the Taiwan Confederation of Trade Unions, joined in the Labor Day March, which was led by TYPU on Ketagalan Boulevard.

They demanded that the government "cut down working hours, ban overwork, increase wages and refuse using dispatches (temp workers)."

Before the march, black-shirted protesters from labour groups threw smoke flares at the Presidential Office in an attempt to point out the ineffectiveness of the Ma government during the past seven years.

Union groups headed to the Legislative Yuan to hurl paper guavas at the building, demonstrating that the workers are fed up with the legislators' "sugar-coated lies" and are refusing their "guava checks," meaning bad checks.

More than 150 police officers were deployed to keep the peace.

Health care workers, firefighters and members of the police force also joined in the Labor Day march, declaring that an employee carries the workload of several workers, claiming that insufficient manpower at their institutions is causing them to be seriously overworked.

In remembrance of the TransAsia Airways' Penghu plane crash last year, airline employees also attended the march for the first time.

The march was made up of five groups, including workers from industries such as media, electronics, health care and airlines alongside national freeway toll collectors, firefighters and police officers, signifying what the protesters claim is the perpetual low-quality working conditions in the labour workforce in Taiwan.

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