Staff shouldn’t be forced to work dur­ing typhoons says la­bor group


La­bor groups held a press con­fer­ence in Taipei yesterday, show­ing poll re­sults in­di­cat­ing that many depart­ment stores force sales­per­sons to work dur­ing typhoons, ne­glect­ing the per­sonal safety of em­ploy­ees.

Typhoon Soude­lor caused many ca­su­al­ties, yet ac­cord­ing to a poll by a union rep­re­sent­ing depart­ment store work­ers and the Youth La­bor 95 Union (

) con­ducted us­ing a sam­ple of 1,719 depart­ment store em­ploy­ees start­ing on Aug. 8 and con­clud­ing ten days later, de­spite typhoon risks, about 88 per­cent of sales­per­sons were still asked to work on typhoon hol­i­days with­out any dis­cus­sion.

“Go­ing to work in such weather is dan­ger­ous,” said Chou Yuh­suan ( ), pres­i­dent of the Youth La­bor 95 Union, “It is un­be­liev­able that only 11-18 per­cent of these em­ploy­ees get com­pen­sa­tion for be­ing present on typhoon hol­i­days, while most of them face be­ing fined over NT$2,000 if they are late or ab­sent.”

“Depart­ment stores do not re­spect reg­u­la­tions from the gov­ern­ment,” Chou stated, point­ing out that the Min­istry of La­bor (MOL) has pre­scribed that dur­ing hol­i­days, em­ploy­ees must be paid nor­mally and can­not be counted as ab­sent or late, or be forced to take leave and change shifts. Yet in re­al­ity many sales per­son­nel face the ex­act op­po­site plight.

Forty-five per­cent of em­ploy­ees who did not turn out due to weather rea­sons were taken as be­ing ab­sent with­out rea­son, while 16 per­cent were forced to make up another day and 36 per­cent were asked to use leave with pay, such as per­sonal days or an­nual leave in ex­change.

A sales per­son who iden­ti­fied her­self only as “S” and is cur­rently work­ing for Far Eastern Depart­ment Stores, shared that she was not al­lowed to call the com­pany to ask about whether she should turn out for work. She ar­rived on time on Au­gust 8, only to find the depart­ment store closed. “Later I got a phone call telling me the depart­ment store would not open till the af­ter­noon, and asked me to wait nearby un­til the store opened,” S stated that the depart­ment stores treat em­ploy­ees “in­hu­manely.”

Many peo­ple seize the chance to go to depart­ment stores on typhoon hol­i­days. Ac­cord­ing to the poll, more than one-third of sales per­son­nel feel the work­load on typhoon days is 40-per­cent more than on reg­u­lar days. “Ne­glect­ing the safety of em­ploy­ees and in­sist­ing on open­ing dur­ing typhoons, the con­sumer be­hav­ior in Tai­wan shows that depart­ment stores have ‘spoiled’ cus­tomers, which is com­mit­ting mur­der out of greed,” Chou said.

La­bor groups de­manded that the MOL carry out la­bor stan­dards in­spec­tions of depart­ment stores, and fine them im­me­di­ately if they vi­o­late reg­u­la­tions. Groups also hope to as­sign typhoon hol­i­days as a statu­tory hol­i­day, and if depart­ment stores do not change the work­ing con­di­tions of em­ploy­ees, they will protest along with sales­per­sons at depart­ment stores.

Grace Ting-ann Lee, Spe­cial to The China Post

Mem­bers of la­bor groups speak a press con­fer­ence in Taipei, yesterday, crit­i­ciz­ing some busi­nesses for forc­ing em­ploy­ees to work on typhoon days.

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