EXPLOITED?THSRC employees have to endure long work hours, insufficient rest time, sacrificed holidays, forced overtime and unpaid overtime, the union said
By Huang Li-hsiang / Staff reporter
Unhappy with the company not giving them the overtime pay that they claim are entitled to for working on national holidays or biweekly “deformation” work hours in the past nine years, the Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp’s (THSRC) labor union yesterday threatened to go on a strike during the Lunar New Year holiday if the company refuses to provide overtime pay.
THSRC recently opened three new stations and is to add 545 extra trains — totaling a record high of 2,065 trains — during the nine days of the Lunar New Year holiday this year.
The union yesterday issued a statement saying that the company has achieved its world-class standared of operations by exploiting its employees for many years.
While the company’s operating performance ranked high for its safety, punctuality and services — compared with other high-speed railways around the globe — its employees have to endure long work hours, insufficient rest time, sacrificed holidays, forced overtime and unpaid overtime, it said.
Up until the regulations on work hours were modified starting this year, the THSRC used the “biweekly deformation work hour mechanism,” but told employees to complete 2,040 working hours per year to earn overtime pay. It has not paid the overtime it owes its employees, the statement said.
Employees are forced to work overtime, with shorter holidays and no double pay for working on holidays, it added.
The union said the employees are getting paid a relatively low salary in an exploitative working environment, and that employees of Japan’s Shinkansen bullet train or South Korea’s high-speed railway earn more than two times the salary of THSRC employees, on an inflation-adjusted basis.
Although the union asked for legislators’ assistance last year and the company responded at the time that it would conform to the Labor Standards Act (勞基法), the statement said that the company still has not given any affirmative response to the union.
Therefore the union restated its demands, including immediate payment for working overtime or national holidays and illegal unpaid overtime pay; the immediate improvement in the situation of reduced holidays; allowing at least 30 minutes rest after every four-hour work period and that employees are not forced to work overtime.
If the company does not take any action or make a promise to the union, the employees will take their entitled days off on national holidays, including Lunar New the Year holiday next month, the statement read.
The THSRC said that it “has always respected and listened to the union’s opinions, and would continue to negotiate with the union to reach a consensus, so that transportation during the Lunar New Year holidays would not be affected.”
However, a union official dismissed the company’s response, adding that the union would decide on Jan. 25 whether it would go on strike during the Lunar New Year holiday.