Fri, May 26, 2006 - Page 1 News List

`Central Daily News' staff threaten protest action

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Faced with the decision by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) to close the Central Daily News, the newspaper's union yesterday threatened to hold a protest if the party failed to come up with a solid layoff plan by this afternoon.

The KMT's Central Standing Committee decided on Wednesday to close the newspaper, a KMT-owned Chinese-language newspaper that was established in 1951.

The newspaper was more than NT$47 million (US$1.5 million) in debt as of the end of last month, and with an average monthly loss of NT$8.4 million, it has become a financial burden for the party, KMT Spokeswoman Cheng Li-wen (鄭麗文) said on Wednesday.

The newspaper's labor union issued a statement late on Wednesday denouncing the party's decision and said it will take legal action to protect the rights and interests of employees.

"To help continue the operations of the newspaper, the union sent sets of suggestions, but the party never replied ... We call on the KMT to negotiate and reach a consensus within three days on the issues of pensions and insurance," the statement said. The union also accused the party of negligence, saying that it owed the newspaper subsidies totaling NT$239 million.

The union said it would invite the KMT's integrity committee to investigate any possible mishandling of funds.

KMT Deputy Secretary-General Chang Che-chen (張哲琛) said that the party had been subsidizing the newspaper to the tune of NT$5 million every month, but this had made no improvement to its financial situation.

"The newspaper is a commercial organization, so it needs to be self-sufficient, rather than continually asking for money from the party ... We will not avoid the issue of layoffs," Chang said.

The newspaper has more than 70 employees. The KMT said it would stop subsidizing the newspaper at the end of this month, and the newspaper will formally cease operations on June 1.

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