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Scuffles mar labor bill meeting

The Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee was scheduled to reexamine meeting minutes from the session at which the first reading of the amendment was passed on Oct. 5.

The amendment would ax seven statutory vacation days. But the government’s plans to implement a five-day workweek will only guarantee one fixed day off weekly, giving businesses the option to ask employees to work on the other “rest day.”

The opposition Kuomintang (KMT) questioned the legitimacy of the Oct. 5 meeting, claiming that the chair, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chen Ying, had ignored the alternative proposals and objections from KMT lawmakers.

KMT caucus convener Liao Kuo-tung said the meeting minutes were “incorrect,” and that the proceedings were “violent and unlawful.”

Current chair and DPP Legislator Wu Yu-chin’s announcement at the committee session that objections to the Oct. 5 decision and meeting minutes “will not be dealt with,” sparked violent confrontations.

Lawmakers from both sides came to blows, with punches thrown and the KMT’s Chen Yi-Ming wrangled into a chokehold by the DPP’s Su Chen-Ching.

In the aftermath of the melee, Wu sat down to clarify the details of the meeting with the press later Thursday afternoon.

Wu stated that committee members “voted by hand on the approval of the meeting minutes … Committee members voted 7 to 0.”

When asked why the opposition’s objections had not been acknowledged, Wu responded by saying that KMT lawmakers “were in a mess.”

Wu later quoted procedural laws to defend her decision not to deliberate on objections to the meeting minutes.

‘DPP doesn’t own the Congress’

Commenting on the meeting’s outcome, New Power Party Legislator (NPP) Huang Kuo-chang said “I cannot believe that something like this could happen … The DPP doesn’t own the Congress!”

Huang said he had sought out Legislative Speaker Su Jia-chyuan to discuss the matter, only to be told that Su was on a business trip in Southern Taiwan.

At a press conference later Thursday afternoon, NPP lawmakers denounced the DPP’s “autocracy,” questioning whether the ruling party had forgotten its promises of legislative reform made before taking office.

“We did a lot of homework, hoping to achieve some sort of consensus with both parties to keep the committee operating normally, and to actually discuss on the draft amendment.” Huang said.

The Social Welfare and Environmental Committee was scheduled to review several environment-related bills, with Environmental Protection Administration Minister Lee Ying-yuan set for questioning. However the committee adjourned within half an hour after scuffles broke out.