Sun, May 08, 2005 - Page 1 News List

KMT union issues July 16 strike threat

PENSION FEARS A union spokesman said the party's employees fear for their future and want to see more than talk from KMT leaders who have planned layoffs

By Caroline Hong  /  STAFF REPORTER

In an effort to force the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) to answer to the needs of its employees, the party's union said yesterday that it is considering a mass strike on July 16 -- the day of the KMT's highly anticipated chairmanship election.

"We are sincere in our desire to talk to the party. However, we must defend our labor rights," Liu Chien-sung (劉建崧), director of the KMT union, said yesterday.

In a telephone interview with the Taipei Times, Liu said that the main reason for the proposed strike is concern that the party has not allocated any money from the controversial sale of its assets to its employee pension plans.

This is a major concern of the party's employees, Liu said, given that the KMT's top decision-making body, the Central Standing Committee, approved a proposal in early March to layoff around 1,100 of the 1,700 employees over the next two years.

"We have given our youth, our lives to the party. They cannot pass this career-destroying resolution and not do anything to take care of things," Liu said.

There are around 500 to 600 employees who are of retirement age, Liu said. If a typical pension plan can be valued at around NT$400,000, then the KMT must be prepared to pay at least NT$200 million in the near future for that group of employees.

However, the union has yet to see the party take any action to prepare such funds, Liu said.

"Everyone from KMT Secretary-General Lin Feng-chen (林豐正) to the two candidates for chairman [Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) and Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九)] have continually said that they will use the proceeds from the liquidation of the KMT's assets to take care of the pension plans for employees. However, we have seen nothing," Liu said.

He said the union is afraid that the party's current leadership will get away with doing nothing until the end.

"A strike is measure of last resort. But we cannot allow [KMT Chairman] Lien Chan (連戰) and the current leadership get away without resolving this issue." Liu said. " So we might strike on the day of the chairmanship election to prevent him [Lien]from running away."

Liu said the union will have an executive meeting on May 17 to decide whether or not to strike.

In response, KMT spokesman Chang Jung-kung (張榮恭) said yesterday that he did not believe that such a strike would have an impact on the chairmanship election.

"I think that the majority of the party's employees will not be affected by the strike, so that the chairmanship election will go on as scheduled," he said.

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