《TAIPEI TIMES》 NPP plans referendum to repeal labor law changes
LOVERS AND DREAMS: The NPP is urging a repeal of the labor law amendments because they are unpopular with 68% of 1,082 people surveyed in a telephone poll
By Ann Maxon / Staff reporter
The New Power Party （NPP） yesterday said it would promote a referendum to repeal controversial amendments to the labor law and provide free legal consultation to workers nationwide.
The legislature on Wednesday passed amendments to the Labor Standards Act （勞動基準法） amid protests from opposition parties and labor groups, with many expressing concern that it would increase the chances of workers injuring themselves at work and health issues caused by overwork.
“The NPP believes it is necessary to hold a referendum to repeal the amendments because of widespread opposition,” NPP Executive Chairman Huang Kuo-chang （黃國昌） said at a news conference at the NPP caucus office in Taipei.
A telephone survey conducted by the party on Thursday found that 68 percent of respondents support holding a referendum to repeal the amendments, NPP Legislator Hsu Yung-ming （徐永明） said.
The survey gathered 1,082 responses from across the nation, he added.
The NPP is also promoting a referendum to initiate an act on the minimum wage and another referendum that asks: “Whether the president should convene a ‘citizens’ constitutional convention’ to redraft the Constitution and let the public decide whether to adopt the new constitution through a referendum,” Huang said.
According to the NPP, the referendum proposals have received the most votes in an online poll conducted by the party.
“We hope the referendums for repealing the labor law amendments and passing a minimum wage act can be run alongside the elections at the end of the year,” Hsu said.
As for the referendum to redraft the Constitution, which Hsu described as “less urgent,” the party hopes to run it with the presidential election, he said.
To hold the referendums, each proposal must gather 1,879 signatures in the first stage and 28,1745 votes in the second stage.
To pass, 4,595,748 people must vote to agree. People can sign the referendum proposals on paper and online, Huang said.
“I hope we can work for the same goal and eventually work together on this,” Hsu said when asked whether the party would collaborate with other groups to promote the referendums.
The Social Democratic Party （SDP） and other groups yesterday also announced a plan to promote a referendum to repeal the labor law amendments.
“Workers are not robots that can work 24/7; but are people of flesh and blood, with family, lovers and dreams,” SDP convenor Fan Yun （范雲） said at a news conference. “It is time that we stop putting up with things as they are and take action to change our lives.”
SDP member Cheng Hao-chung （鄭皓中） urged young people to stand up for their rights and sign the proposal, saying that they hope to collect 2,000 signatures by the Lunar New Year.
The NPP’s New Taipei City chapter yesterday also launched a free legal consultation service for workers.
To protect workers from being overworked under the new labor law, the chapter has set up a “overwork complaint hotline,” NPP New Taipei City Chapter executive director Chen Chih-ming （陳志明） said, adding that people can use the service to ask about their labor rights.
The hotline number is （02） 2250-3225 and the e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. The service is available from 9am to 6pm, Monday to Friday.
New Power Party legislators Hsu Yung-ming, right, and Huang Kuo-chang show the results of a survey on support for a referendum to repeal the amendments to the labor law at a news conference at the NPP caucus office in the Legislative Yuan in Taipei yesterday. Photo: CNA