About 50,000 people took to the streets in Taipei yesterday to vent their anger against a resolution passed by the legislature last month to slash performance bonuses for employees of state-run enterprises.
The protesters — members of the unions of 29 state-run companies and 27 supporting workers’ associations — demanded that the government review the decision to cut their performance bonuses unless their companies make a profit and find an alternative solution.
The Jan. 6 resolution also lowers the ceiling on such bonuses from the current level of 2.6 months’ salary to 1.2 months.
Moreover, the 2011 performance bonuses for staff at the state-run Taiwan Power Co (台電), CPC Corp, Taiwan (CPC, 台灣中油), Taiwan Sugar Corp (台糖) and Taiwan Water Corp (台灣自來水) must also not be higher than 1.2 months’ salary. Since the 2011 bonuses have already been paid out at the existing rate, employees would have to return the difference, the Legislative Yuan has said.
The decision came amid a public outcry over state employees receiving big bonuses, despite the huge losses incurred by some of their employers.
Taiwan Petroleum Workers’ Union chairman Chuang Chueh-an (莊爵安) yesterday said the Legislative Yuan’s decision was an abuse of the government’s administrative powers.
Chuang said that the “one-size-fits-all” principle utilized in slashing funds across all state-owned companies disregarded the differences between them and nullifiesd the purpose of the performance bonus: giving staff an incentive to work harder.
Chao Ming-yuan (趙銘圓), the executive director of the Taiwan Tobacco and Wine Board (TTWB) factory union, said the legislature had not given enough consideration to the decision.
The TTWB had a pre-tax surplus of NT$12 billion (US$404.9 million) and post-tax surplus of NT$11 billion last year, he said, adding that if it were to slash its bonuses and adhere to a particular ceiling, lower-level workers would have no incentive to improve their performance.
During the protest, Lin Yu-fa (林裕發), head of the Taiwan Sugar workers’ union, launched a campaign to form a political party to defend the rights and benefits of state-run enterprise workers.