A decision by lawmakers to significantly reduce the size of the year-end bonuses for workers at state-owned firms backfired yesterday, after labor union representatives voiced their strong opposition to the move and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus whip Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) demanded a Cabinet reshuffle.
After sitting down with labor union representatives from 22 state-owned firms to discuss the issue yesterday afternoon, Wu told a press conference that the caucus was sorry for the “badly thought-out decision.”
Wu blamed the Ministry of Economic Affairs for causing the trouble in the first place, which he said led to the “regrettable” decision by the legislature.
“The legislative session is about to end. The government must reshuffle the Cabinet,” he said.
Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-shiang (施顏祥) decided last month that workers at money-losing firms administered by the ministry would receive a company bonus of up to 2.6 months salary. Employees are also to receive a performance-based bonus equivalent to two months’ salary, under Premier Sean Chen’s (陳冲) instructions.
The bonus policy aroused public anger as lawmakers questioned why the government failed to rein in spending at the state-run firms amid the economic downturn.
Lawmakers decided on Monday that only profit-making state-owned firms can distribute bonuses, with the amount capped at under 1.2 months’ salary.
Led by Taiwan Petroleum Workers’ Union chairman Chuang Chueh-an (莊爵安), labor representatives from state-owned firms lobbied lawmakers against the bonus cut as they sought to have the decision overturned when the legislature deliberates the government budget on Monday and Tuesday.
They met with Wu and People First Party caucus whip Thomas Lee (李桐豪).
Taiwan Petroleum Workers’ Union secretary-general Wang Cheng-ping (王承賓) said that although Wu and Lee did not promise to reconsider the decision, they agreed to discuss the issue with their parties.
The union representatives also asked to meet with Democratic Progressive Party and Taiwan Solidarity Union lawmakers, but no meetings have been arranged yet.
Meanwhile, central bank Governor Perng Fai-nan (彭淮南) expressed his concern to Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) that the bonus ceiling might become a disincentive for employees at the central bank and state-owned banks to stay in their jobs.
The Taiwan Federation of Financial Unions on Tuesday called an emergency meeting of executives of labor unions at its member banks and issued a statement urging the legislature not to uphold the decision on the bonus ceiling, which they said would hurt employee morale.