The Price of Blood and Tears
"Occupational Accidents & Diseases Protection Law" has been born

by Yuling Ku

After paralyzing whole day, Legislative Yuan almost dissolved meetings. Rather than skipping some acts which have not been negotiated between the parties, they finally decided to review the sixteenth act "Occupational Accidents & Diseases Protection Law", and then quickly pushed and passed by Legislative Yuan on the date of October 11, 2001. A member of occupational victim getting together outside of Legislative Yuan agitatedly said that they traded it with their blood and tears.

Responding to the unsatisfatory official version, labor groups normally propose their version to the Legislative Yuan for contrast review. "Occupational Accidents & Diseases Protection Law" is the first labor law which generated by labor group without any official version for comparison.

"Occupational Accidents & Diseases Protection Law" is the reward to the labor movement development for the past ten years.

Seven Years Pains!
The Painful Process Of the "Occupational Accidents & Diseases Protection Law"

In Taiwan, 5 labors die from occupational accident or diseases, and almost 20 labors become handicapped every working day. The scary truth is that numbers of death and injured labors dedicate their lives to the economic contribution for the past forty years.

To the thirty thousand of the occupational victims, occupational compensation is almost like a big pie in the hands of the employers; you can see it, but you can never get it. If occupational worker is not applicable for protection by Labor Standard Law, he has to pay for his legal fee and attorney fee for the civil court. If the employer did not enroll occupational work into the Labor Insurance Program and National Health Insurance at the beginning, he has to suffer injury and death without any compensation. Most of the time, the employer does not recognize the accident as an occupational accident, not to mention that the badly injured occupational worker has to locate his evidences and witnesses himself for compensation. Worker is like staying in the working slaughterhouse, and the inadequacy of labor laws give employers chances to slay worker legally.

In 1992, occupational victims; including men with the wheel chairs, artificial limbs and elastic clothes in the "1112 Labor Demonstration"; collectively march to the street for protest. In 1993, the 1112 "Chiu Dou" started with mourning the spirit of the death and protested a slogan of "Occupational Hazard Is National Hazard."

In an effort to protect the rights and compensation for the occupational workers and keep them from being hurt again by the inadequacy of the system, Chen Chuan Chi, Ku Yuling, associated with TAVOI,CALL and occupational worker started for the long journey of the legislative action in 1994. They gathered the articles regarding the compensation for occupational accidents from Labor Standard Law and Labor Insurance Law, and summoned more than 600 worker and conducted 59 time seminars for law enactment and amendment. Assisted in revision by Huang Chen Kuan and Ong Yu Jung from academics, finally completed the labor version of the "Occupational Accidents and Diseases Protection Law" with 7 chapters and 90 articles.

The labor version officially was submitted to the Legislative Yuan in 1997, and forced the Council of Labor Affairs to submit the official version for review at the same time. Promoted by the occupational workers and supported by legislators, both sides finally reached to the same conclusion through several negotiations.

Five breakthroughs!
They Traded the Revolution of the System with Their Lives

Even though the final negotiated and compromised version, 7 chapters and 41 articles, does not really give labor rights to be in charge of, it has 5 revolutionary breakthroughs compared to the current systems.

1、 To break through the current labor insurance system: Even though occupational worker is not enrolled into the labor insurance system, he still has right to be compensated. He also can still enroll into the system, after he leaves his work.

2、 To break through employers' decision for contract termination: Occupational workers have the legal right to apply for either contract termination or voluntary retirement, and doctor has permission to enter the factory to conduct the investigation.

3、 To break through the one-time lump sum compensation: Occupational worker should be offered long- term compensation by annuity system.

4、 To break through the current system which occupational workers have the responsibility to provide evidences and witnesses: The responsibility of providing evidences shifts to employers, and occupational worker are exempted from legal expenses.

5、 To break through the contractors and subcontractors system: Contractors are responsible for the occupational compensation.

The above-mentioned 5 breakthroughs are the uniqueness compared to the current labor laws in Taiwan. Even though the final version completed 50% of the original labor version, it definitely will be the role model for enacting laws in the future.

Even though the final version eliminated reformed spirit of subrogation and arbitration, it still remains the basic spirit. Such as Article 6 states that occupational worker who is not enrolled in the labor insurance program can obtain the basic compensation, and the employers should be punished by the same amount of penalty according to Article 34. Externally, the purpose of the process is to cover the indentation of the social insurance, as a matter of fact; it is a miniature of the national subrogation. In addition, Article 7 stated that the responsibility of evidences providing shifts from occupation worker to employer, and occupational worker can be exempt from the legal expenses when the case goes to court, according to Article 34. These two articles are the backbone for the occupational worker during the mediation meeting, for they give the occupational worker better chances to strive for compensation instead of being threatened by employer used to be and discourage for litigation.

The most important thing is that the penalties do not really become a burden to the employers, but the new law has clearly stated that the penalties from 50 thousands to 300 thousands are imposes on the employers, and is a continuous penalty until they make improvements.

The Warning!
428 The International Day of Mourning Is the Eternity Pain of Our Society

The 28 of April is the International Day of Mourning, more than 70 countries have mourning activities for the occupational death on the same day. In 1986, Canada pioneered to officially adopt 428 as the International Day of Mourning, followed by the UN Labor Council and Spain Legislative Bureau. TAVOI in Taiwan followed suit in 1999, and even passed the law in 2001.

The law will take effect on the 28 April 2002, and TAVOI and CALL are planning to conduct seminars and training programs by the occupational victims. Associated with labor unions, we urge to establish memorial stones, assure the contribution of the occupational death, and also draw attention to the labor working security.

TAVOI and CALL think that they have completed the taught mission in the labor security issues. In the future, they will continuously promote to establish memorial stones, through openly mourning by the society in order to let everyone has a chance to think over the important issues such as labor security and industry development planning. We expect an economic construction under the primary consideration of "People is more important than a thing, labor is prior to the capital."