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Union members demand typhoon-day rule changes

STORMY ISSUE: A labor official responded by saying that it would not be fair for the government to decide if workers are allowed typhoon leave

Union members staged a protest in front of the Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) building yesterday, demanding that laborers be paid double time or, like government employees, be able to take the day off when a typhoon day is called.

The protest was organized by the Youth Labor Union (YLU). The YLU has also initiated an online petition demanding that workers in the private sector receive the same treatment as workers in government agencies in the event of a typhoon. As of now, 354 people in eight unions have signed the petition, including the Taiwan Confederation of Trade Unions (TCTU) and the Taiwan Labour Front.

Last week’s slow-moving Typhoon Sinlaku prompted the Central Personnel Administration (CPA) to announce two typhoon days. However, this was only applicable to government employees and students.

The Labor Standards Act (
勞動基本法) stipulates that in the event of a typhoon or other natural disaster, an employee who originally had the day off and is called to duty is entitled to double wage and compensation leave. However, if the employee was scheduled to be on duty and could not show up because of poor weather conditions, the employer is not required to pay any wage because there is no “typhoon leave” the law says.

While some privately owned companies allow workers to take paid leave during typhoon, this is still a privilege and not a right.

“There should not be double standards for workers in the public and private sectors,” said Hsieh Tsuan-chih (
謝創智), General Secretary of the TCTU.

The unions urged the CLA to include typhoons in Article 43 of the Labor Standards Act, which currently only requires wage payment in the event of “marriage, bereavement, sickness, or other proper reasons.”

In response, Sun Bi-shia (
孫碧霞), director of CLA’s Department of Labor Standards, said that due to the wide variety of privately owned companies, it would not be fair for the government to decide if workers are allowed typhoon leave. However, employers may not count an absence if employees can’t make it to work during a typhoon, she said.
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(From: Taipei Times; Date: Sep. 24, 2008)