Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Wu Fu-quei (吳富貴) yesterday accused a Taichung City beauty salon of defrauding its employees.
At a press conference held to address the issue, Wu claimed that the Xain-liu Beauty Salon persuaded assistants in its employ to undergo in-house training to become aromatherapists and charged them a training and materials fee of up to NT$140,000 (US$4,242) per person.
The "students" were given just 11 bottles of concentrated oil and received minimal training, Wu said, adding that some employees had been compelled to resign after paying their fees.
A former employee of the salon surnamed Tsai said that the company had boasted about its revolutionary spa technique and the handsome salary paid to its therapists when she applied for the assistant job.
"But when we asked our employers to show us certificates proving that they were accredited, they were unable to present any," she said.
Tsai said that the company had refused to refund the training and materials fees after its assistants quit.
Other petitioners, who chose not to identify themselves, said that the company had threatened to set gangsters on them if they caused trouble.
"We have made appeals to the Taichung branch of the Council of Labor Affairs, the Consumer Protection Commission's Taichung branch and even the National Police Agency's hotline for reporting fraud, but everyone just keeps passing the buck," Tsai said. "Nobody responded to our pleas."
Labor Council Commissioner Chang Wen-hsiu (章文秀), who was also present at the press conference, said the council could only intervene if the company had failed to pay the employees the minimum wage of NT$15,840 as required by the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法).
Chang said that the complainants could appeal to the council's Taichung branch to investigate the matter further.
Chang added that the council could not assist the salon's former employees to recover the fees they had already paid, as the council does not govern contractual transactions.
Consumer Protection Commission official Chang Chia-lin (張嘉麟) told the complainants that the Civil Code guarantees that employees can apply for their contracts to be nullified within a year from the day they prove that fraud has taken place.
In response, Xain-liu Salon executive officer Tsai Tsung-chiao (蔡宗橋) said that the company had attempted to end the dispute through the mediation of the labor council in Taichung, but that the complainants had failed to show up.
He said he suspected that the group were attempting to damage his company's reputation because they had been recruited by rival salons.