Minister considers allowing public servants to unionize

Taipei--Labor Minister Lin Mei-chu (???) said Wednesday that she will give serious consideration to a proposal to allow government employees to form workers' unions.

Responding to a legislator's question on the issue, Lin said she will discuss the matter with the Ministry of Civil Service (MCS) and other government agencies.

She said, however, that it was debatable whether unionizing was the only solution to the issues raised by opposition Kuomintang Legislator Lee Yen-hsiu (???).

In a meeting of the Legislature's Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee, Lee said that public servants, including policemen and firefighters, should have the right to unionize, engage in collective bargaining and take industrial action, like workers in the private sector.

He said that currently, firefighters work 360 to 400 hours a month, way more than the maximum 176 hours stipulated in the Labor Standards Act, as the fire service is 5,000 short of regular staff.

Policemen are working under similar conditions and about 10 of them die of overwork each year, Lee said.

Under the current law, government employees are allowed to form associations but not unions.

A petition to allow unionization of civil servants was posted last year by a member of the public on a website that facilitates public policy participation and is maintained by the National Development Council.

After the petition gained the endorsement of 5,000 citizens, the Ministry of Labor (MOL), Ministry of the Interior and the MCS met in March with representatives of public servant associations, including policemen and firefighters, to discuss the issue.

The MOL response to the petition, along with a transcript of the meeting, was posted on the website on March 31.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel