Wed, Feb 26, 2003 - Page 4 News List

Railway union plans big strike

STAFF REPORTER

Even as the protests by 2,300 Taiwan railway employees were subsiding on Monday, the Taiwan Railway Labor Union (TRLU) was considering a large-scale strike, local media reported yesterday.

The union workers were protesting moves by the Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA, 台灣鐵路局) to lease two platforms and four tracks at Taipei Railway Station to the Taiwan High Speed Railway. The move has resulted in the cancelation of six daily trains.

Chang Wen-cheng (張文正), chairman of the TRLU, was reported as saying yesterday that unless the TRA abided by its promise and restored the canceled trains within two weeks, the union would call a strike for Tomb-sweeping Day (April 5) or May Day (May 1).

Union officials were also reported as saying that they expect that TRA Director-General Huang Teh-chih's signing two days ago of a document putting this promise on paper is only a trick to cool things down and that sooner or later he will break the promise.

Hsu Ta-Wen (徐達文), deputy-director of the TRA, was reported as saying that the southbound Song Shan tunnel had already been taken out of use, and that there was no way the six discontinued trains could be restored. According to the reports, Hsu said that communications with the union would be completed in a couple of days, after which work at the tunnel would start again.

The TRA's Reconstruction Bureau (鐵路改建公程局) was reported as saying that it had temporarily suspended work on the southbound Song Shan tunnel, but that since it had not been opened to traffic, the six canceled trains had not been restored.

According to the reports, Minister of Transportation and Communication Lin Ling-san (林陵三) said that the work stoppage in the tunnel would not affect the progress of the high-speed railway project, He added that he had requested Huang to conduct close communications with the railway union in the hope of solving the dispute between the TRA and the THSRC by the end of March.

In other related news, residents in the Hualien area are reported to be upset that one of their Tzu-chiang class trains has been moved by the TRA to Kaohsiung, where it has been changed into a luxurious tourist train, the Kaohsiung Do-Do Train.

The Hualien City Government is reported to have submitted a complaint to the Ministry of Transportation and Communication, while the Hualien chapter of the TRLU is demanding that development of transportation in eastern Taiwan be given priority.

The TRA is reported as saying that since 20 north- and southbound Tzu-chiang class trains stop in Hualien every day, transferring one of these trains would not affect ordinary traffic.

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