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Taiwan passes law to cut work hours for laborers

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June 17, 2000 


TAIPEI, (AP) - Taiwan's Legislature passed a bill Friday to cut the weekly hours for blue-collar workers from 48 to 42 - despite fierce opposition by owners of labor-intensive industries.


Legislators gave overwhelming support to the bill, saying Taiwanese can afford more leisure time because of the island's prosperous economy.


The measure, to take effect in January, will add 7.5 percent to business costs in terms of overtime pay, officials said.


Blue-collar workers will be able to take a Saturday off every other week, a practice adopted two years ago by civil servants.


The Federation of Industries said in a statement the bill would force more labor-intensive industries to abandon their operations in Taiwan and relocate abroad.


Affected most will be middle-aged workers, who already suffer from high unemployment because industries prefer younger workers who get lower pay, the federation said.


Industry leaders urged the government to allocate a larger quota of imported foreign workers to reduce the bill's impact.


High-tech industries, the backbone of Taiwan's economy, will be less affected because they are not so labor intensive and are highly competitive.


Chao Yung-ching, the only legislator voting against the bill, criticized the main political parties for supporting the bill and saying they were trying to win worker support at the expense of business interests.



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