Tue, Sep 23, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Lawmakers flexible with union

LABOR ACTIVISM The ruling party caucus said that Chunghwa Telecom should give the day off to any employees who want to attend a rally outside the legislature today

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Lee Ying-yuan, right, deputy secretary-general of the Democratic Progressive Party, meets with representatives of Chunghwa Telecom's labor union outside the party headquarters yesterday.

PHOTO: SEAN CHAO, TAIPEI TIMES

In a bid to minimize the impact of today's planned mass rally organized by Chunghwa Telecom's (中華電信) labor union outside the legislature today, the DPP legislative caucus yesterday made several offers, which were greeted with little enthusiasm by labor leaders.

"Since the union has obtained permission to hold the mass assembly, we called on Chunghwa Telecom to grant all employees interested in participating in tomorrow's event a leave of absence," Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Wang Tuoh (王拓), who also serves as the convener of the caucus' emergency response task force, said yesterday.

Wang held a closed-door caucus meeting to discuss the issue with Premier Yu Shyi-kun, who is scheduled to deliver a policy report at the legislature today. The union plans to petition Yu before his address to halt government plans to privatize state-run Chunghwa Telecom.

Chunghwa Telecom chairman Hochen Tan (賀陳旦), who also attended the press conference after the meeting, said that the company had shown the utmost flexibility toward employees asking for a leave of absence today, contrary to union allegations.

"I've authorized division chiefs to handle the matter in accordance with the company's regulations. The bottom line is that the service the company provides cannot be disrupted and the demands of the customers have to be met," Hochen said.

Since the purpose of the mass assembly is to petition Yu to address their grievances over the privatization plan, Wang said that the union should have taken the case to the Executive Yuan rather than to the Legislative Yuan.

"We're more than willing to arrange for them to meet with the premier, but unfortunately they refused our offer," Wang said. "Under such circumstances, we proposed to the premier that he accept their petition tomorrow."

The caucus will also respect the union's inviting people concerned to deliver speeches outside the legislature today.

"We also welcome them to petition the caucus. We'll arrange representatives to accept their petition if Legislative Yuan speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) allows us to do so," Wang said.

Chanting "oppose privatization," "fully support the labor union of Chunghwa Telecom" and "labor workers, unify," the Taiwan Confederation of Trade Unions (全國產業總工會) and three other labor unions yesterday held a press conference at the legislature to show their support for the Chunghwa Telecom labor union's plan.

Lu Tien-lin (盧天麟), executive director of the Taiwan Confederation of Trade Unions, said that he will mobilize 60 unions and 3,000 people to attend today's event.

"We don't rule out the possibility of surrounding the Executive Yuan at an appropriate time if the government and the legislature don't respond positively to our requests," Lu said.

Lu added that the recent string of strikes initiated by state-run enterprises highlighted that the government's plan for privatization is questionable.

"Labor workers are choosing to challenge the government because we don't want to be fooled by the government and the legislature," Lu said.

Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) Deputy Secretary-General Huang Chung-yung (黃宗源) said that the government should consider cutting the salaries of Chunghwa Telecom employees by 35 percent in a bid to boost the company's efficiency.

"The nation's 110,000 employees of state-run companies are comparatively better off than their counterparts employed in private companies, as they're entitled to handsome retirement pensions and civil servant benefits," Huang said.

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