Human rights committee asks for probe into amendment of labor law

The amendment of the labor law passed the third reading after an 18-hour, overnight provisional session on January 10

Labor unions express anger after the amendment of the labor law passed the third reading (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Eight members from the Presidential Office Human Rights Consultative Committee submitted an article to a Taiwanese newspaper on Saturday, asking Taiwan’s Control Yuan and Ministry of Justice to file an investigation into the potential violation of human rights by the recently passed amendment of the Labor Standards Act.

The amendment of the labor law passed the third reading after an 18-hour, overnight provisional session on January 10, as the ruling Democratic Progressive Party held the majority at the Legislative Yuan.

In the article published by Apple Daily, the committee suspects that the legislative process was imprudent due to a lack of full participation and examination.

Above all, the committee was concerned that the amendment might have violated the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), both of which are part of the International Bill of Human Rights enacted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1976.

The Taiwanese government legislated to adopt the two covenants in 2009 by passing the Act to ICCPR and ICESCR at the Legislative Yuan, and the Ministry of Justice became the competent authority.   

Alex Huang (黃重諺), spokesperson for the Presidential Office, said in the afternoon that the government had put much emphasis on the protection of labor rights, and that it would continue to monitor companies for violating the law after the amendment went into effect, reported the Liberty Times.

Huang said the administration would be focusing on issues such as low pay among young employees, protection for less advantaged workers, and alleviation of waged workers’ economic burden in 2018.

Huang added that the government was pushing for the transformation of industries in Taiwan with the hope of turning the structure of industry and labor toward a positive direction.

Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇), spokesperson for the Executive Yuan, denied that the amendment undermined labor rights.

Hsu reiterated earlier sayings that the amendment would guarantee flexibility for both employers and employees.

The amendment, criticized by many labor unions and NGOs for worsening working conditions and undermining labor rights, would be implemented on March 1.

The Presidential Office Human Rights Consultative Committee was established in 2000 directly under the Presidential Office. Its tasks include advocating human rights policies and providing related advice.