Fri, Apr 16, 2010 - Page 3 News List

CLA unable to answer ECFA questions

By Shelley Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) officials were left embarrassed at the legislature yesterday when none of them could provide a clear answer to lawmakers’ questions on which industries and workers would be affected by the economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA).

CLA Minister Jennifer Wang (王如玄) and other council officials came under fire during the legislature’s Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee meeting when lawmakers fired questions at her about recent events.

Wang and other officials yesterday tried to downplay the Kaohsiung City Government’s refusal to make service staff at its ­employment center memorize government ECFA promotional material designed to enable them to better answer questions such as whether the signing of an ECFA will cause unemployment to rise.

However, when Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislator Liu Chien-kuo (劉建國) asked council officials to raise their hand if they knew what effects the ECFA would have on the nation’s various industries and workforce, no hands went up.

“What gives the CLA the right to order employment center service staff to memorize material about the ECFA if CLA officials themselves don’t even know it?” Liu asked.

DPP Legislator Huang Sue-ying (黃淑英) also criticized the council for promoting the ECFA at a time when there is still no consensus over the signing of the agreement.

“Workers who visit the employment centers are looking for [a job that puts] food on the table. You can’t just paint them a picture of a bowl of rice,” she said.

In defense of the council’s policies, Wang said that the council was not seeking to further its own interests or to pick a fight with the Kaohsiung City Government, but to ensure workers understand how signing the ECFA could potentially impact them.

“As civil servants they [employment center staff] are responsible for informing workers about how the government is preparing to help them to deal with the potential adverse effects of free trade,” she said.

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