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