Laid-off freeway toll collectors yesterday accused the National Freeway Bureau of being two-faced, too lenient with Far Eastern Electronic Toll Collection Co (FETC) and pushing them to take whatever new job the company offers.
The company’s contract with the bureau required it to help the laid-off workers find new jobs with it or other subsidiaries of the Far Eastern Group, by October last year.
However, the bureau pushed the deadline back until next month because of FETC’s lack of progress.
Of the 941 toll collectors who were laid off after the “pay as you go” electronic toll-collection system was launched earlier this year, 455 indicated they wanted a new job with FETC.
After interviews, 206 were accepted by the company, but only 91 remain in their new jobs.
About 100 of the laid-off workers protested at the Ministry of Transportation and Communications in Taipei yesterday, complaining that they not only were given a hard time during the interviews, but were also seen as troublemakers in their new workplaces.
Lin Bi-huang (林碧煌), the leader of the toll collectors’ self-help group, said he applied for a job with a company that operates around the clock, seven days a week.
“When I asked how much they pay their employees, the person said they paid a little more than NT$20,000 [US$665] a month. ‘This is all you deserve,’ they said, and they do not give you overtime pay,” he said.
“If you see those jobs, such as supermarket workers, you will see that people cannot stay in those jobs very long. So this is the companies’ tactic — making it difficult for you to stay,” he said.
FETC has not paid a NT$500 million penalty imposed for violating the terms of its contract with the bureau, nor has it respected the contract by finding jobs for former toll collectors, Lin said.
Protesters also said the bureau did not punish FETC for violating the terms of its contract, but was trying to force the ex-toll collectors to accept low-paying jobs.
“While the bureau is scheduled to negotiate with workers on Friday, it is holding job-matching sessions the same day nationwide. The bureau knows many of the laid-off workers are under a lot of economic pressure,” protesters said in a statement.
“The sessions are used by the bureau to meet its goals for next month, after which whatever happens to the employees is none of its business,” they said.
If the bureau insists on holding the job-matching sessions as planned, the self-help group said they would protest at those venues as well.
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