Tue, Apr 01, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Military seeks to privatize depot despite opposition

CAPITALISM The logistics command will decide this month on who will take over a Kaohsiung depot, but its employees are still dead set against the idea

By Brian Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The military is expected to decide this month on which civilian company will take over the operations of a military depot in Kaohsiung, the first manufacturing unit of the military to be privatized, defense sources said yesterday.

However, employees of the depot are apparently against the proposal and have lobbied lawmakers to take up their case.

The sources said 10 companies, all thought to be from Taiwan, will bid for the contract to take over the 302nd Depot of the Combined Logistics Command at the beginning of next year.

The depot mainly produces clothes and would be the first facility to be "government owned, contractor operated" as part of scheme to save the military money through privatization.

The privatization program is a government policy created several years ago that has suffered several setbacks.

Bidding for the contract to operate the 302nd Depot was initially scheduled to be held at the end of last year but was postponed following opposition from the depot's workers.

A senior official with the Combined Logistics Command who is familiar with the situation said the command had asked for opinions from officers and employees at the depot and discovered that most of them do not like the plan.

"Most of the staff with the depot still want to stay with the military. They do not think a civilian company ... will treat them better," the official said on condition of anonymity.

"They know the privatization plan is the government's policy. They have no way to stop it, but some of them do not want to give up without fighting," he said.

The official said the command was concerned about the opposition from the depot's employees.

"The depot's employees have sought help from lawmakers of all parties. With the help of the lawmakers, these people have begun to express their demands," he said.

"Some of them say that if the privatization plan can be realized and they have to be sacked, they should be given severance pay that amounts to 44 months of their salaries," he said.

"Others requested to be transferred to other depots of the command, saying they did not want to work for the 302nd run by a civilian company," he said.

The command said it could not agree to these demands as it did not have enough money to pay everyone 44 months' severance pay and did not have many vacancies at other depots.

Minister of National Defense Tang Yao-ming (湯曜明) told the legislature recently that if opposition to the depot's privatization continued, he would consider closing it.

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