Wed, Aug 31, 2005 - Page 2 News List

MRT firm faces `harsh' reshuffle

RIOT The acting Kaohsiung mayor said the conditions of foreign workers in Kaohsiung City-based firms would be probed, but his idea of punishment was less than imposing

BY MO YAN-CHIH  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH CNA

Acting Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) yesterday said he would ask the city's MRT company to reshuffle its board of directors if government investigators uncover any serious breaches of regulations involving the treatment of Thai laborers.

"While poor management of foreign workers is not listed as a reason for the city government to cancel the contract with the company, we will ask the company to reshuffle its board of directors if serious flaws are found," Chen said yesterday after a city council meeting.

He also said that a reshuffle would be the "harshest punishment" that the city government had ever imposed on a private investor.

Seeking to silence accusations that it had dodged responsibility for the problem, the government has launched an investigation into the riot by Thai workers over alleged mistreatment by a management company.

The special committee of investigators will focus on the conditions of the Thai workers and the possible culpability of the MRT firm in its handling of foreign labor regulations. The report is due by the end of the week.

Chen said that if the city government is asked to take "administrative responsibility" for the riot, he would "happily bear the burden."

In an attempt to prevent similar disputes between foreign workers and management from happening again, Chen ordered the labor department to commence inspecting all Kaohsiung-based companies with more than 100 foreign laborers, even if the sites where they work are outside the city.

Chen said that Kaohsiung-based Formosa Plastics Corp, for example, has more than 4,800 foreign laborers who are currently working in Mailiao Township (麥寮) in Yunlin County.

"As long as the employer is based in Kaohsiung City, the labor department will keep an eye on its management of foreign laborers by seeking the cooperation of local [site] superintendents," he said.

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