Sunday, January 15, 2017

Labor laws prompt post office, bus firms to mull cuts

Labor laws prompt post office, bus firms to mull cuts

By Cheng Wei-chi and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

The driver of a Capital Bus Co vehicle looks out the window in Yilan County yesterday. The company announced plans to increase fares for services between Taipei and Yilan.

Photo: Chiang Chih-hsiung, Taipei Times

Chunghwa Post Co (中華郵政), as well as bus companies that offer long-haul services, said they are mulling measures to downsize weekend office hours and increase ticket prices respectively, citing higher overheads expected after the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法) was amended, with some regulations coming into effect yesterday.
State-run Chunghwa Post said it faces an additional NT$250 million to NT$300 million (US$7.77 million to US$9.33 million) per year in personnel costs due to the amendment.
Chunghwa Post CEO Chen Hsien-chao yesterday said the company understands that young people do not like to work overtime at weekends, but the postal service is a labor-intensive industry.
The company has reached a consensus with the union that the law should not supersede the post office’s responsibility to the public, Chen said.
It is to analyze the locations of its offices that offer weekend services — which total 287 — the volume of mail sent to them and people’s posting habits to determine which offices would continue operating at weekends, he said, adding that the goal is to halve the number that are open on Saturdays and Sundays by February.
Weekend offices would stay open until 4pm as opposed to the usual half-day schedule to ensure services are available to those who are unable to go to the post office on weekdays, Chen said.
“We strive to ensure that post offices open on Saturdays will be spread out as evenly as possible,” he said, adding that nighttime post offices, as well as the post office at the National Palace Museum that works a Sunday shift, will continue their present schedule.
However, the company will no longer offer prompt delivery services on Saturdays and Sundays, with people encouraged to use express mail instead, Chen said.
The changes have to be agreed upon by the company’s board of directors before being filed with the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, he said.
The company has no plans to close any of its 1,312 post offices, he said.
Meanwhile, Kuokuang Bus Co (國光) said that it has filed an application with the Directorate-General of Highways to increase its fares, as well as canceling some of its discounted and promotional tickets.
Kuokuang vice president Wang Ying-chieh (王應傑) said the company is looking at a NT$150 million increase in overheads due to the amendment, which it plans to offset by raising prices by 10 percent.
Capital Bus Co (首都客運) has applied to raise prices by 8 percent, CEO Lee Chien-wen (李建文) said.
UBus Co (統聯客運) declined to comment on its plans, while Ho-Hsin Bus Co (和欣客運) said it has no plans to increase fares.
The Directorate-General of Highways said that most public-transport companies set their fares within the limits set by the agency, but competition means that fares are usually well below the maximum.
As long as the fares stay below the maximum allowed, applications to raise prices only need to be reported to the Department of Motor Vehicles, it said.

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