An independent review committee yesterday found that Far Eastern Electronic Toll Collection Co (FETC) did not breach its contract with the National Freeway Bureau in terms of arranging jobs for the former toll collectors, adding that the contractor has until July 17 to address the issues encountered by the job seekers.
According to the bureau, 947 former toll fee collectors were laid off after the launch of the distance-based electronic toll collection system this year, with 487 choosing to be compensated with a severance payment equivalent to five months of their salaries. Five were on sick leave.
A total of 455 toll collectors chose to find new jobs arranged by FETC, the company administering the ETC system. The company had promised to find jobs for all toll collectors wishing to find jobs after the new toll collection system was launched, which was part of the contract.
As of Tuesday, 97 people were working in new jobs. Sixty were accepted after job interviews arranged by FETC, but declined. Meanwhile, 31 reported to their new jobs on Tuesday and six chose to report to their new jobs at later dates.
The bureau also found that 22 have yet to report to their new jobs and 39 had reported to their new positions, but quit soon afterward. In addition, 82 had one unsuccessful job interview, and never appeared for further job interviews. The remaining 118 never appeared at job interviews offered to them.
The FETC said that it should not be held accountable for former toll collectors who remain jobless, because they have either been given jobs, but chose to leave or never responded to FETC’s offers.
Bureau Deputy Director-General Wu Mu-fu (吳木富) said that the bureau had formed an independent committee to determine if FETC had failed to fulfill its promise, which consisted of a judge, a representative from the Consumers’ Foundation, a lawyer and a professor specializing in labor affairs.
According to Wu, the committee members examined the situations of 455 job seekers. They further set the criteria for a “demanding” job offer, which either requires former toll collectors to commute daily to a job that is not within the county in which they live or to commute daily at a distance exceeding 30km each way.
Among the different cases, the committee did find shortcomings in how the company recruited the former toll collectors, Wu said.
Wu said that FETC had sent job offers directly to 200 former toll collectors who either never came for job interviews, or had one unsuccessful job interview and did not appear for further interviews.
The committee found that two of them were asked to travel from Pingtung to Greater Kaohsiung daily for their new jobs. Fifteen of them were asked to commute more than 30km daily one-way to their new jobs. In one extreme case, a toll collector was asked to commute 58km to a new workplace.
“We also found that the document on the job offers has a line saying that the toll collectors would be compensated with a severance payment instead if they fail to report to their new jobs before July 7. However, we think the toll collectors need to indicate personally if they want to take the severance payment or not, rather than it being granted to them under such a condition. The July 7 deadline was also a bit harsh,” Wu said.
Wu said that the company has until July 17 to address the above-stated shortcomings, find former toll collectors more appropriate jobs and give each job seeker at least a month to consider taking new jobs.