Wed, Mar 11, 2015 - Page 4 News List

Hualon workers demand pensions

By Lii Wen  /  Staff reporter

Former Hualon Corp employees rally outside the Ministry of Labor in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: CNA

Dozens of former Hualon Corp employees yesterday rallied outside the Ministry of Labor in Taipei, urging the ministry to keep its promise to compensate them for their unpaid pensions.

Following years of protests, the workers from the former textile firm reached a deal with Minister of Labor Chen Hsiung-wen (陳雄文) in November last year on a two-stage compensation scheme funded by banks and other creditors of the bankrupt company.

The Hualon Self-Help Organization filed a lawsuit against Hualon creditors last year, after most of the funds from a court-mandated auction of the company’s assets went to debt repayment for banks instead of to the workers.

Although the two parties later agreed to solve the matter through the ministry’s donation scheme, the organization said it would withdraw its lawsuit only after all 18 participating banks provided written commitments about the donations.

The organization said that the final written commitment still missing was from Far Eastern International Bank.

Minutes after yesterday’s demonstration ended, Far Eastern International Bank sent its commitment to the ministry by fax, reassuring the workers that it would donate NT$11.6 million (US$367,500) to the workers’ pensions.

“It is obvious that the ministry is procrastinating on the issue,” organization secretary Huang Yung-chiao (黃永喬) said, adding that their previous demands regarding the written commitments had been ignored for weeks.

The workers retired about a decade ago and are claiming an average of NT$1 million per person in unpaid pensions after their employer failed to make deposits to a retirement account as required by law.

As Chen promised that the pensions would come through by the Lunar New Year — which fell on Feb. 19 this year — the workers said that the minister has failed to keep his word.

They questioned whether Chen made false promises in an attempt to salvage the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) standings in the nine-in-one elections on Nov. 29 last year.

In response, Department of Labor Management Relations Director Wang Hou-wei (王厚偉) said that the ministry is prepared to commence arranging the donations as soon as the organization withdraws its lawsuit against the banks.

The ministry’s two-stage compensation plan would first pay about 80 percent of the workers’ pensions through donations procured from the banks involved in the Hualon case. The plan capped the pensions of former managers and executives at NT$3 million, thus allowing most workers to receive a greater share of their pensions.

The remaining 20 percent would be paid after the final piece of the company’s real estate in Miaoli County’s Toufen Township (頭份) has been auctioned off.

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