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Violence cuts labor bill hearing short

The activists, including members of several labor unions — some of whom had been hunger-striking for more than 280 hours by Wednesday, chanted “Where is Ker Chien-ming,” demanding that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus whip show up for the hearing.

“Are we just a joke to you (the DPP)?” Labor Rights Association CEO Wang Chuan-ping said at the hearing as activists questioned why most members of the Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee — which is slated to vote Thursday on whether to send the bill to a second reading — were not present.

The bill seeks to eliminate seven public holidays and to implement a “one fixed, one flexible” day off workweek scheme as a precursor to a universal two-day weekend system.

“Is the hearing just a formality for the DPP — so that you could say you have ‘listened to public opinion’ when you push the bill through the committee?” Wang asked.

Committee convener Chen Ying then adjourned the meeting amid the disruption, blaming the activists for “obstruction.”

The activists, chanting “Don’t escape” and “Return workers’ seven statutory holidays,” swarmed Chen to block her from exiting the conference room, clashing with police officers in the process.

Hsu Wei-dong, a member of the Taiwan International Workers’ Association who had been on a hunger strike for more than 280 hours, fainted during the fracas and fell from the rostrum.

He was sent to the hospital and reported to have no serious injuries.

Chen also fell to the floor during the brawl. She managed to leave the hearing soon after, escorted by police officers.

Labor Minister Responds