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September 23, 2017

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Labor groups protest at Ministry of Labor

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Over 10 labor groups and unions yesterday afternoon gathered in front of the Ministry of Labor (MOL) headquarters, launching a failed attempt to break through police lines and enter the building.

The unions and labor groups, including the Taiwan Labor Front (勞工陣線) and the Taiwan Confederation of Trade Unions (全國產業總工會), jointly staged a parade in Taipei on Labor Day, demanding workers' rights and improved welfare.

The demonstrators also protested against trade liberalization, privatization of state-owned enterprises and bank mergers while calling for better working conditions.

Sunflower Movement student activists Lin Fei-fan (林飛帆), Dennis Wei (魏揚) and Hung Chung-yen (洪崇晏) also took part in the parade.

Protesters gathered on Ketagalan Boulevard around noon yesterday and marched on the streets in Taipei before finally arriving at the MOL building at 3:30 p.m. Demonstrators raised signs that read "low wages is a national shame."

The road in front of the government building was packed with protesters in spite of rainfall. Over 200 police with shields were dispatched to separate the demonstrators from the MOL building's main entrance.

Around 4 p.m. the front row of the crowd attempted to break through police lines and enter the MOL building. Clashes between police and demonstrators ensued.

Police later agreed to step back, allowing more than 10 protesters to stage a sit-in in the middle of the MOL square.

Protesters started to leave the area after the organizers of the demonstration announced an end to the event at around 4:30 p.m.

The organizers of the protest claimed that over 20,000 demonstrators took part in the demonstration. The Taipei City Police Department,

on the other hand, said an estimated 7,500 people joined the protest.

MOL Response

The MOL responded to the protest, saying that it respects people's right to express their opinions and added that it will handle protesters' demands appropriately.

The ministry said that it will propose an amendment to the relevant laws next year, aiming to reduce regulated working hours. The MOL also said that it will draft a bill to better protect workers' interests and rights.

During the Cabinet's weekly meeting, Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) said that the government has been humbly listening to the opinions of laborers, noting that the MOL has implemented several major polices to protect labor rights.

Jiang said, however, that there is still room for improvement in areas such as labor education and insurance, urging the MOL to ensure a better working environment for all laborers.

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