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Labor bill sparks fresh hunger strikes

The government is seeking to make revisions to the Labor Standards Act in order to implement two mandatory days off per week.

But the reforms would also see the elimination of seven statutory public holidays, a development that has drawn the ire of student and labor representatives.

The bill passed a preliminary review by the Legislature’s Health and Welfare Committee on Oct. 5, triggering month-long protests from civic organizations.

The hunger strike comes with fears lawmakers will process the disputed bill on the floor of the legislature on Nov. 8, with the one-month period for cross-party negotiations set to expire over the weekend.

It is still possible the bill could sit through another month under review by the cross-party negotiation mechanism, before being put to a vote on the floor of the legislature.

In a press statement, the Presidential Office expressed hope the protesters would “take care of their bodies and their health.”

Burning ‘Fake slogans’

As protesters announced their intention to go on hunger strike, they used candles to burn a flag depicting Tsai’s election campaign slogan — “Light Up Taiwan.”

The protesters said the symbolic “lighting up” of the flag was done to protest the false promise of the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP ) “fake slogans.”

The seven hunger strikers then settled down in a tent set up in front of the Legislative Yuan’s main gates.

“The people have lost confidence in the DPP’s holiday-slashing policy,” labor representatives said.

Representatives from labor groups went on hunger strike back in July, in an attempt to pressure lawmakers into not passing the disputed bill in a special committee session.