Sunday, January 15, 2017

TRA workers protest Labor Act change

TRA workers protest Labor Act change

DEMANDS:If the TRA does not address the perceived staff shortage, union members would not work extra hours and services would have to be reduced, a union official said

By Cheng Wei-chi  /  Staff reporter, with CNA

Members of the Taiwan Railways Administration union yesterday hold up signs with the word “protest” as they walk from Taipei Railway Station to the Legislative Yuan during a rally to ask for higher bonuses, risk subsidies and pension reform.

Photo: Huang Yao-cheng, Taipei Times

About 3,000 Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) employees yesterday protested in Taipei over amendments to the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法), saying that after the one fixed day off, one flexible rest day workweek comes into effect next month, the TRA would have an insufficient number of workers.
Union members congregated near Taipei Railway Station before marching to Zhongzheng District (中正), stopping at the Executive Yuan and the legislature to make appeals.
The new workweek would cause TRA employees to work 46 extra hours per month, Taiwan Railway Labor Union chairman Chang Wen-cheng (張文正) said, adding that employees would be denied the right to take flexible shifts.
The union estimates that the TRA would need to hire 2,500 more employees to operate its current schedule without making employees work longer hours, Chang said.
If the TRA does not expand its payroll to meet the shortage of staff, it would violate the act and set a negative example, he said.
If the administration does not address the staff shortage, union members are not prepared to work extra hours, meaning services would have to be reduced, he said.
The union also called on the administration to include bonuses it pays employees to their salaries, issue subsidies to employees exposed to vocational hazards, and create an equal standard on pensions and benefits given to TRA employees and civil servants.
Chang said that he was recruited by the TRA after passing a government exam, the same way civil servants are hired, but there is a large difference in the salaries paid to TRA employees and civil servants.
In addition, TRA employees are denied the 18 percent preferential interest rate on savings, he said.
He called on the Executive Yuan and the Ministry of Transportation and Communications to answer the union’s appeals by the end of this month, or union members would elevate their campaign with “drastic measures,” including launching a strike or lying down on railroad tracks to paralyze services.
Chang later said that he received a statement from the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) Department of Social Movement saying that President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) had instructed the ministry to act on the union’s appeals.
Deputy Minister of Transportation and Communications Wang Kwo-tsai (王國材) said the ministry supports all but one of the union’s demands, the call for an equal pension system, as the issue cannot be decided by the ministry.
The level of subsidies for vocational hazards and the addition of bonuses to employees’ salaries would require further discussions during a meeting scheduled by DPP Legislator Lee Kun-tse (李昆澤) for next week, Wang added.
The three appeals would be forwarded to the Executive Yuan for approval, he said.

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