Labor law protesters lying on tracks block trains at Taipei Station

19 trains and 11,250 passengers affected when labor law protesters lie on railroad tracks

Protesters lying on the tracks.

Protesters lying on the tracks. (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Rail traffic at the Taipei Railway Station was disrupted for nearly an hour last night (Jan. 8) by 10 people lying on the tracks last night to protest changes to the workweek rules (一例一休), reported CNA.

The protesters placed their bodies in a row across one of the tracks at the Taipei Railway Station at 6:55 p.m., forcing the the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) to order Northbound and southbound traffic to be halted at 6:55 p.m, according to the report.

Traffic at the station did not resume until police removed all of the protesters by 7:42 and rail services did not resume until 8 p.m., resulting in a total of 19 trains and 11,250 passengers experiencing delays due to the protest, according to TRA.

The workweek rules, formally known as the Labor Standards Act, having barely gone into effect less than a year ago in December of 2016, are being modified after complaints from some local business associations that the existing workweek rules were not suited to their sector.

(CNA image)

The new version of the law will allow flexible work-time arrangements and expand maximum overtime hours from 46 to 54, but on the condition that no more than 138 hours of overtime can be worked over the course of three months. Other major changes in the amendment includes conditionally allowing employees to work 12 days in a row once they take a mandatory day off either side of the 12-day period, instead of the current six, with the rest period between shifts changed from 11 hours to eight.

Protesters are most angered by the requirement to work 12 days in a row and the reduction of rest time between shifts.

Five lawmakers from the NPP, including the party's executive chairman, Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌), started a hunger strike in front of the Presidential Office building on Friday evening (Jan. 5), asking the government to withdraw the amendment of the Labor Standards Act and President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to address to the discontent of workers. The protesters continued their hunger strike until early Monday morning, when they were removed by police.