Fri, Sep 09, 2005 - Page 10 News List

FSC not planning to run Taiwan Business Bank

By Amber Chung  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH AGENCIES

Members of the Taiwan Business Bank Industrial Union stage a strike outside the bank's main branch on Tacheng Street, Taipei, yesterday, protesting against a plan to privatize the bank.

PHOTO: LIU HSIN-DE, TAIPEI TIMES

The nation's financial regulator said yesterday it is not considering bringing state-run Taiwan Business Bank (台灣企銀) under its management, as its operations remain sustainable despite an escalating strike by workers protesting against the bank's privatization plan.

"We have no plan to take over the management of the bank for the moment, as the situation is not that bad," the Financial Supervisory Commission's spokesman Lin Chung-cheng (林忠正) said yesterday.

But the commission hopes the union and the bank's management can resume negotiations to settle disputes over retirement plans and job security, Lin said.

Article 62 of the Banking Law (銀行法) empowers the financial regulator to take over any bank whose business or financials deteriorates to the extent that it cannot pay its debts or that depositors' rights and interests are at risk.

Employees of the state-run bank yesterday began a strike to protest a privatization plan that they fear could result in job losses.

Strikes are rare in Taiwan and the union's action is said to be the first nationwide work stoppage at a major financial institution.

Strikers sat down outside the bank's headquarters in Taipei, as well as offices in Taichung and Kaohsiung to try to prevent customers from entering.

"Oppose merger, oppose invasion," protesters shouted in Taipei, holding placards that read "On Strike" and "Demand Protections."

Sixty-four percent of the bank's 4,561 employees showed up to work yesterday, while the number of employees joining the strikes was estimated at around 800, or 18 percent of the total workforce. The remaining 18 percent of staff were absent and probably just on leave, according to the commission.

The strikes, however, are expected to escalate today, when the bank is slated to finalize its share sale, Lin said, adding that the bank has prepared measures to keep operations from being interrupted, such as using backup staff.

The government is expected to announce the result of the sale later today. Several major financial holding companies are reportedly interested in bidding for the bank as the government aims to consolidate the domestic banking sector.

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