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Wed, Nov 01, 2000 - Page 4 News List

Railway union cancels protest

DERAILED The head of the railway workers' union halted a plan by members to protest disparaging remarks made by the minister of transportation and communications

By Chuang Chi-ting  /  STAFF REPORTER

Members of the Taiwan Railway Labor Union lash out at Minister of Transportation and Communications Yeh Chu-lan during a board meeting yesterday. The union demanded that Yeh apologize for a remark she had made earlier.

PHOTO: CHIANG YING-YING, TAIPEI TIMES

The Taiwan Railway Labor Union (台鐵工會) yesterday canceled a planned protest that was to be staged in front of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC, 交通部) offices, going against the wishes of some representatives of the railway workers.

The union, however, continued to pressure the ministry to respond to members' requests within a week, at which point the union said it would decide whether to take further action against the MOTC, which oversees the Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA, 台鐵局).

After a meeting of the union's board of directors yesterday, the union issued a statement requesting the Minister of Transportation and Communications Yeh Chu-lan (葉菊蘭) apologize for an "improper comment" about TRA staff.

The union also insisted the MOTC allow the union to participate in TRA meetings with Taiwan High-Speed Rail Corp (THSRC, 台灣高鐵). The union threatened that if it was not permitted to join the meetings it would boycott decisions made by the TRA with the THSRC.

Nearly 200 members of the union showed up yesterday and were ready for a protest to be staged after the meeting of the board of directors. Union members sang a song proclaiming that "the union will destroy Yeh" prior to the meeting.

Some union members complained about Yeh's attitude, especially her criticism last week of the "big boss mentality" among the administration's staff, which had prevented the administration from upgrading its service quality.

Yeh had made the remarks after a spate of five rail accidents occurring in one week brought about growing public complaints aimed at the TRA. Chen Te-pei (陳德沛), former director general of the administration, who resigned because of the accidents, is to be replaced by Huang Te-chi (黃德治) tomorrow. A member of the board shouted that Yeh had "raped Chen by forcing him to quit."

Union members repeatedly interrupted the meeting and a speech by Chang Chia-juh (張家祝), vice minister of transportation and communications, saying Yeh's remarks had offended the dignity of TRA staff and demanded apologies to boost the failing morale of the bureau.

Chang, representing the MOTC in meetings with the union, made no apology for Yeh, which aroused the anger of some union members, who said that Yeh was not sincere about breaking the deadlock between the two sides. Some criticized Chen as incapable of defending his staff from Yeh's "rude criticism."

Meanwhile, other union members said the MOTC intended to undermine the TRA in order to implement the high-speed rail projects. They said they feared competition with the high-speed railway in the future.

Chang Wen-chung (張文正), director general of the union, made the final decision for the union to cancel its planned protest yesterday to avoid being perceived as only protesting against Yeh.

A vote to go forward with the strike resulted in a tie between those for and those against.

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