The Association of Taiwan Journalists (ATJ) yesterday urged Next Media Group chairman Jimmy Lai (黎智英) to try keep as many employees as possible before the group finalizes the sale of its media outlets, adding that, as part of the deal, he should ensure that staff do not lose their jobs.
The Formosa Plastics Group confirmed yesterday its chairman William Wong (王文淵) has agreed to join Chinatrust Charity Foundation chairman Jeffrey Koo Jr ( 辜仲諒) in buying Next Media.
The news came only a little more than two weeks after Next Media signed a memorandum of understanding with ERA Communications chairman Lien Tai-sheng (練台生), who agreed to purchase Next TV for NT$1.4 billion (US$47.9 million).
The news of a buyout was unsettling for employees of Next Media Group, as some of them — 300 from Next TV and 204 from Next Multimedia Entertainment Services — were told they would soon be laid off following the agreement signed with Lien.
Taipei City Government’s Department of Labor has said that it would fine Next Multimedia Entertainment Services for violating the Act for the Protection of Workers from Mass Redundancy (大量解僱勞工保護法) by laying off 234 employees.
The company could face a penalty of between NT$100,000 and NT$500,000.
Next TV, on the other hand, has agreed to reduce the number of employees being dismissed from 300 to 178.
ATJ chairwoman Chen Hsiao-yi (陳曉宜) yesterday said Lei should not simply apologize, but instead actively negotiate with the new buyer about the future job security of employees.
While the Koo family does not own cable television systems, Chen urged the National Communications Commission (NCC) to investigate and carefully review the deal, particularly the source of the funding that Koo had used to facilitate the purchase of three media outlets.
She said that Chinatrust should keep the employees in the group because staff are the real assets in the media industry.
The new buyer should use measures like cutting pay and transferring jobs instead of simply dismissing workers, she added.
Cheng Yi-ping (鄭一平), who represents the workers at Next TV, said news about the new buyer has demonstrated the value of Next Media.
“Aside from protecting workers’ interests and as well as guaranteeing the independence of the editorial department, we also want to say to whoever is interested in buying Next TV: Treat us nice,” Cheng said.
Tsai Jih-yun (蔡日雲), president of the Apple Daily Workers’ Union, also asked that whoever buys the newspaper sign a corporate agreement with the union.
“We hope the person will protect workers’ interests and ensure that the editorial department can continue to work independently,” Tsai said.