Tue, Apr 16, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Subcontractors renew protests over AIT compound

Staff writer, with CNA

Representatives of firms subcontracted to build a new office complex for the American Institute in Taiwan yesterday hold a banner and signs in Taipei during the first day of a week-long protest demanding that the project’s US contractor pay them for the work they have already done.

Photo: CNA

Representatives of three firms subcontracted to build a new office complex for the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) began a week-long protest in Taipei yesterday, demanding that the project’s US contractor pay them for work already done.

One week after staging a protest at the office’s construction site in Neihu District (內湖), the demonstrators gathered again, shouting slogans calling for payment by US-based Weston Solutions and asking the AIT to help them.

The protesters said Weston Solutions owes more than NT$470 million (US$15.69 million) to three Taiwanese subcontractors.

Tu Chung-jen (涂崇仁), a representative of one of the subcontractors, Wei Chuan Arch Contracting Co, said the new round of protests will last until Friday.

“Two AIT officials met with us during the last protest on April 8 and conveyed our concerns to their office,” Tu said.

However, since then, there has been no word from the AIT, he added.

Weston Solutions started to delay or hold back payments more than a year ago and the situation has deteriorated over time, and affects more than 160 workers, Tu said.

A US news report last month said Weston Solutions was in serious financial trouble and had laid off more than 100 employees, Tu said. When Weston’s staff in Taiwan were asked about report, they admitted that the company could not pay the subcontractors what were owed, he said.

The three firms are now refusing to have any contact with Weston Solutions and are seeking assistance from the AIT.

The demonstration will move to the AIT’s current location if it does not offer them help, Tu said.

An AIT spokesman said it was aware of the plans to protest this week, but reiterated that the AIT is not directly involved in the dispute.

“Legally, we’re prohibited from directly engaging” in such matters, spokesman Mark Zimmer said.

However, the AIT is “very concerned about” the issue, he added.

“We still hope that they can work out their differences with Weston,” Zimmer said.

The AIT’s new compound is being built on a 6.5 hectare site on a hillside within walking distance of the Neihu MRT station on the Wenhu line. The site was leased from the government for 99 years.

The compound is scheduled to open in 2015.

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