Thu, Dec 19, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Ex-Hualon workers renew calls for help with pensions

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

Police restrain National Tsing Hua University student Chen Wei-ting as he tries to break into the Executive Yuan at a rally by former Hualon workers yesterday.

Photo: Lo Pei-der, Taipei Times

A group of retired workers from Hualon Textile Corp’s Toufen (頭份) factory in Miaoli County yesterday renewed their appeal to the Executive Yuan to help them recover their pensions after their employer absconded overseas.

Over the past year, the retired workers, whose average age is about 60, have petitioned the Miaoli County Government and the Executive Yuan to help them recoup the NT$301 million (US$10.15 million) in retirement payouts Hualon has owed them since 2003, but to no avail.

“The government should not be an accomplice in the breach of trust perpetrated by Hualon,” said Lee Tsui-ming (李翠明), president of the Hualon Self-Help Organization, which comprises 336 retirees.

The group was established in October, but has “been unable to get help anywhere,” Lee said.

While the Executive Yuan has been “indifferent to our plight,” it “acted without delay” to help punish National Tsing Hua University student Sun Chih-yu (孫致宇) for trying to draw Premier Jiang Yi-huah’s (江宜樺) attention to the issue by throwing slippers at him, Lee said.

“We are here to support Sun and renew our appeal,” Lee said yesterday.

A court ruling said Sun violated Article 85 of the Social Order Maintenance Act (社會秩序維護法) when she threw a pair of red-and-white slippers toward Jiang, and ordered her to pay a fine of NT$5,000.

The slippers missed their intended target.

“Sun did not harm anyone by throwing the slippers. She was just exercising her freedom of expression, trying to make the voices of the long-ignored retirees heard,” said Tseng Wei-kai (曾威凱), a volunteer lawyer representing the student.

Tseng said Sun appealed the ruling because she did nothing wrong.

The workers retired about 10 years ago and on average, are owed NT$1 million each, the group said.

Lee said that Hualon management official Liang Ching-hsiung (梁清雄) forced the workers to agree to have their retirement payouts delayed for up to three years.

“That deadline has passed, but to date none of us have received a penny from Hualon,” Lee said.

Wong You-ming (翁有銘), then-president of Hualon, jumped bail while involved in an insider trading case in 1990 and fled to Malaysia, where he established textile factories that later expanded into Vietnam and the Czech Republic. He allegedly moved assets from Taiwan to his overseas factories.

The former workers made three demands: that Hualon pay the NT$301 million in arrears immediately, that the Executive Yuan step in to resolve the case and that Article 28 of the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法) be revised to add retirement and severance pay to unpaid salaries as the priorities in debt repayment after a company declares bankruptcy.

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