Union representatives protest state worker bonus cuts

By Amy Su  /  Staff reporter

Tue, Jan 15, 2013 - Page 1

Representatives from the trade unions of state-owned banks and government-owned enterprises under the Ministry of Finance yesterday delivered a petition to Minister of Finance Chang Sheng-ford (張盛和) to express their displeasure over year-end bonus cuts.

More than 20 state-owned enterprises are planning to protest on Jan. 30 on Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office in Taipei to demand that the government come up with measures to supplement its plan to cap employees’ bonuses.

“The government should focus more on rooting out institutional corruption among high-ranking officials of state-owned enterprises, instead of slashing grassroots employee’s bonuses,” said Tsai Kui-hua (蔡桂華), president of the Land Bank of Taiwan (土地銀行) trade union, before taking the petition to Chang.

Tsai said that state-run bank employees deserve encouragement and support from the government, because the banks have to coordinate their business with government policies, but have still been able to generate higher-than-expected profits amid a challenging financial situation.

However, the government’s move to cut the performance bonuses of all workers in state-owned enterprises without discussing the move with trade unions was unfair, and could hurt the nation’s economy further by dragging down private consumption, she added.

Tsai said state-owned enterprises are willing to ride out the dire economic period with the public, but the government has to devise new, comprehensive principles for determining their bonuses.

“We should not receive bonuses if state-owned banks and enterprises do not meet their profitability targets,” Tsai said. “Likewise, employees at these institutions should be given higher bonuses if they generate higher-than-expected income.”

After talking with Chang, trade union representatives expressed their appreciation of the minister’s promise to speak to the Cabinet and lawmakers about the issue.

However, employees of state-owned enterprises may still carry out their plan to protest on Jan. 30 if the government cannot give them a satisfactory response.

The trade unions may also consider suing Premier Sean Chen and Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-shiang (施顏祥) for dereliction of duty.

Earlier this month, the legislature reached a consensus on slashing performance bonuses for workers at state-owned enterprises to the equivalent of 1.2 months’ salary, from the original 2.6 months’ salary level.