Taipei, About 6,000 workers took to the streets of Taiwan's capital Wednesday in an annual Labor Day march, calling for more holidays and paid leave, as well as better labor rights protections.
The marchers gathered on Taipei's Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office at 12:30 p.m. before setting off at 2 p.m., on a route that took them past Taipei Main Station and to the Legislative Yuan. During the march, banners were carried demanding more public holidays, increasing maternity leave from 56 days to 90 days, and the enactment of legislation to enable employees to take unpaid leave for the long-term care of family members.
The marchers also called for the abolition of Article 84-1 of the Labor Standards Act, which exempts certain employees from work-hour restrictions, and also a 10 percent rise in salaries.
Taiwan Confederation of Trade Unions president Chuang Chueh-an one of the main organizers of the march, claimed that working conditions in Taiwan have declined over the past 20 years.
In 2017, the average number of work hours a year per employee was 2,035 in Taiwan, compared with an average of 1,744 hours in Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) member countries, indicating that employees in Taiwan worked 36 days per year more than the OECD average, Chuang said.
The average annual salary in Taiwan is only US$26,300, with over 30 percent of employees receiving a monthly salary below NT$30,000 (US$971), Chuang said, contending that low salaries also impact retirees' income, providing inadequate security in old age.
Despite the longer work hours, the basic monthly wage in Taiwan was still lower than the OECD average, an indication that corporate employers in Taiwan are unwilling to share business profits with their employees, Chuang said. It was the 11th consecutive year that the march was held.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel