Call for department stores to observe typhoon holidays gets support (Taiwan News)

Taipei, Aug. 10 (CNA) An online call for department stores to stay closed on typhoon holidays for safety purposes has drawn support after department store employees were exposed to risks when they went to work on Aug. 8 as Typhoon Soudelor was pounding Taiwan. The Facebook page, titled “Orally Supporting Workers at Department Stores, Please Stop Opening for Business Given Dangerous Typhoon” in Chinese, has received 210,000 endorsements since it was set up Aug. 8, the day on which Taiwan celebrates Father’s Day. One of the page’s creators, who identified himself as Chin Han (??), wrote that department stores cause safety and traffic problems by opening for business on a typhoon holiday, and they are required to pay compensation if their employees get injured on the way to work. Chin urged department store workers, their friends and relatives, and shoppers to show concern for the safety of department store employees, and he posted the call on the Facebook websites of heads of local governments to raise society’s awareness of the issue. Several major department stores, including Sogo and Shin Kong Mitsukoshi, were open in most cities around Taiwan on Saturday afternoon, after the eye of the storm had moved out to sea. Businesses in the service sector, such as operators of department stores, movie theaters and food delivery services, are normally open during holidays in Taiwan, expecting more customers than on working days. A survey of department store workers jointly conducted by the 95 Youth Labor Union and the Department Store Labor Union preparatory organization on Aug. 8 found that 89 percent of respondents had to work that day. Asked if they supported the idea of designating typhoon holidays as statutory holidays, 88 percent said yes, according to the survey, which was based on 1,166 responses. Typhoon holidays are set by local governments when they announce the closing of schools and government offices ahead of an oncoming storm. But no mention of typhoon holidays is made in the Labor Standards Act, meaning there is no law preventing private companies from asking their employees to show up for work on those days. (By Chen Cheng-wei and Elizabeth Hsu)