President gets candid on labor law

Tsai told reporters accompanying her on a four-nation trip to Central America that those in the media sector must negotiate their rights with employers rather than ask the authorities to intervene, according to reports.

The president made the remarks during a chat with reporters on the presidential plane as it prepared to leave El Salvador for Taiwan on Friday.

During the exchange, a reporter said that those in the media “really need one fixed day off and one flexible day off (a week).”

According to the Central News Agency, Tsai told the reporter, “You don’t talk to me about that! You ought to talk to your boss.”

The president said Taiwanese workers relied too heavily on the government to resolve labor disputes.

“It is like this in Taiwan. The labor side never talks directly to the management but instead chooses to lodge protests with the government.

“The government has turned from an neutral arbiter into a involved party. That’s what has become (of the government.) You (the reporters) must stand up and fight on your own,” she said.

While reporters are covered by the new workweek law, on assignments lasting more than a week — such as the president’s trip — it is difficult to ensure a day off.

Alex Tsai, head of the Kuomintang’s Central Policy Committee, criticized the president’s remarks, saying the government was trying to avoid responsibility for implementing a law that destabilized the labor market.

“The Tsai administration has created all this chaos. It is an ‘involved party,’ that is, it is a troublemaker,” Tsai said, according to the United Evening News.

The Presidential Office sought to clarify the President’s comments, saying she meant that the revised labor law did have provisions on holidays, and as it was “still the grace period,” the reporters should talk to their employers.

The revised law gives workers the legal ground to fight for more rights from the employers, according to its statement.

If the workers need assistance from the labor authorities, government has the responsibility of helping protect their rights, the Presidential Office said.

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