Sunday, May 17, 2015

"As mothers could leave work earlier to take care of their children"

Good news! The Legislative Yuan, apparently sick of being seen as a raving pack of fuckwits, has passed legislation that caps the work week at 40 hours, or no more than 84 hours (where'd those extra 4 hours come from?) for two weeks.

That's awesome, although I had thought that this was already policy in Taiwan, and the reason people worked such long hours was because basically every single company ignored the law (and many of them found ways to weasel out of paying overtime - my former employer did this to Taiwanese staff, making them clock in on time but not clock out, so there would be no time-stamp of overtime worked). Though perhaps I'm wrong about that? If I am, please weigh in.

And we do need this - assuming that companies will actually pay attention to it. They seem to have found ways to creep work into Saturdays, which were made a day off as a two-day weekend some time ago (along with the somewhat Faustian bargain that if an extra day off was declared to merge a national holiday with a weekend, that day would have to be made up the following Saturday. I feel people work so hard they shouldn't have to do that). People are overworked, sometimes to the point of death. Almost always to the point of it affecting the rest of their lives. I'm not even going to continue talking about that aspect, because it's so obvious and well-documented that I don't have to. This is what the free market hath wrought, and it sucks. It needs regulation. It's screaming for it.

Even though what is most likely to happen first is bosses saying "sure, you can go home at 6" and then just never promoting that person, ever, for daring to actually use the new law to his or her advantage. The real change won't come until workers, coming to this realization together (whether they're organized or not - I happen to be pro-union but it's not strictly necessary for this to take place), simply refuse to work at places where onerous or even unpaid overtime is expected.

Along those lines, why is this clunker buried at the bottom of the article:

These include an increase of the monthly limit for overtime from 46 to 54 hours, Liu said.

If you increase the overtime allowance, it hardly matters that you're capping the work week. Work hours will be the same. So this law, while a step in the right direction, is not really going to change much. (Thanks to my friend V. for picking that up - I'd missed the line completely, so far down is it buried). 

What stuck in my craw about this otherwise great new legislation was this:

“Flexibility is conducive to a more friendly working environment and the enhancement of female workers’ participation in the workforce, as mothers could leave work earlier to take care of their children,” said Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Alicia Wang (王育敏), who proposed to include the clause in the amendment.


I mean, I am happy that new laws like this, if followed* and enforced** will make lives easier for individuals and for families, and people who want to raise children will find it easier to do so.

But this calls back to all sorts of bullshit stereotypes that women are the nurturers, they're the ones who always care for the children, it's their job. Their husbands' reduced working time is less important, because raising children isn't their job, or something. Nope, we leave that to the ladies.

That? That's crap. Why bollocks on about women taking care of children rather than parents taking care of children or families having more time together? Why ruin perfectly good legislation that way? I know you're taking a stab at feminism, and that's cool, and you can have your own brand of feminism (no True Scotsman here) but comments like this hurt as much as they try to help. 

*fat chance


Meg said...

A step in the right direction, but... I feel like this is another law that sounds great, but will be insanely hard to enforce. Even with a law like that, most people will work overtime anyway before they will file a formal complaint against their employer.

Unknown said...

yr welcome! -- V