Fri, Nov 19, 2004 - Page 11 News List

Bankers verge on violence

OVERBANKING Members of local banking unions did not take too kindly to the FSC vice chairman's reaction when they protested the proposed merger task force

By Joyce Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Employees of several banks protest outside the office of the Financial Supervisory Commission yesterday against the government's plans to merge state-owned banks.

PHOTO: THE NATIONAL FEDERATION OF BANK EMPLOYEES' UNIONS

Violence was narrowly averted yesterday at a meeting between union representatives of local banks and the Financial Super-visory Commission (FSC) as union members petitioned the commission to facilitate the merger of four state-run financial institutions.

The National Federation of Bank Employees' Unions (銀行員工會) told the commission that the government's goal to consolidate the domestic financial sector was not in the best interests of bank employees.

Surrounded by over 50 protesting members, the federation's secretary-general Han Shih-hsien (韓仕賢) said they are strongly opposed to the FSC's delegation of the task to a proposed mergers and acquisitions task force.

The task force will compile criteria that would only benefit foreign banks or big banking conglomerates, while failing to respect local market forces, he said.

The protest nearly turned into a fist fight after FSC Vice Chairman Lu Daung-yen (呂東英) grabbed the microphone from Han, who later led the protesting crowd to demand the resignation of Lu and commission Chairman Kong Jaw-sheng (龔照勝).

The union members suggested that the FSC itself should facilitate the establishment of the Taiwan Financial Holding Co (台灣金控), following the proposed merger of the Bank of Taiwan (台灣銀行), Land Bank of Taiwan (土地銀行), Taiwan Cooperative Bank (合作金庫) and Central Trust of China (中信局).

The federation urged financial authorities to play an active role in safeguarding rights of bank employees by looking into their treatment after the mergers.

Lu told union representatives that the government will respect market forces while hammering out feasible strategies to elevate the level of consolidation among local banks, which are suffering from the nation's over-banking plight.

He said that bank employees' rights are protected by labor laws, and the FSC will demand that merged banks obey and enforce these laws.

As for the proposed merger, Lu said that the FSC will have to respect the decisions of the Ministry of Finance, which is the biggest shareholder of the four state-owned banks.

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