All long-term government contract workers should be made regular employees and compensated for lost seniority, labor rights advocates said yesterday, in a protest outside the Ministry of the Interior.
Rights campaigners wearing white masks blocked off a road outside the ministry and lay on the ground to spell out the Chinese characters for “Give back annual salary” with their bodies, referring to renumeration that comes with seniority.
They said the white masks symbolized the silencing of government contract workers.
Photo: Liu Hsin-de, Taipei Times
“The government presses on the throats of long-term contract workers and says that if they dare to come forward and fight for their rights, they will not have a job next year,” National Alliance for Workers of Closed Factories member Wu Jing-ru (吳靜如) said, referring to former freeway toll collectors and National Taxation Bureau employees.
Former toll collectors composed the bulk of the protesters, with a number of unions also sending representatives.
Campaigners lying on the roadside covered themselves in orange cloth, the same color as the uniforms of the former toll workers, who were laid off two years ago after a nationwide system of electronic eTag toll collections took effect.
Former Freeway Toll Collectors Self-Help Organization president Sun Hsiu-luan (孫秀鑾) said that because toll workers were employed on annual contracts, they did not accumulate seniority no matter how long they were employed, sharply reducing the value of the severance pay to which they were entitled.
The laid-off workers had been employed for 13-and-a-half years on average, she said.
Taoyuan Confederation of Trade Unions chairman Chuang Fu-kai (莊福凱) questioned the legality of the government’s refusal to allow long-term contract workers to accrue seniority, stating that the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法) stipulates that workers can be considered “temporary” workers only when they are employed short-term or seasonally.
Anyone employed for more than one year is considered a long-term employee under the act, he said.
Taipei City Confederation of Trade Unions board of supervisors convener Chiang Wan-chin (蔣萬金) said that contract employees are often fired arbitrarily following elections to allow supporters to be awarded positions.
In a later protest outside Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) headquarters, Former Freeway Toll Collectors Self-Help Organization members said the DPP has been unresponsive to their demands, refusing to take a position on reforming the government’s handling of contract hiring and failing to follow up on promises to find jobs for former toll collectors within DPP-controlled governments.
Sun said that although DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) had promised that positions would be found for the former toll collectors following last year’s elections, only one out of the more than 300 ex-collectors has been given a job.
Days after it was banned in China, a Mandarin ballad satirizing nationalistic Chinese Internet users is trending at No. 1 on YouTube in Taiwan and Hong Kong. Fragile (玻璃心), by Taiwan-based Malaysian rapper Namewee (黃明志) and Australian singer Kimberley Chen (陳芳語), offers a tongue-in-cheek apology to “little pink” Internet users, a disparaging term that describes patriotic “keyboard warriors” from China. After racking up more than 9 million views on YouTube, the song reached No. 3 on the site in Malaysia on Thursday, according to Kworb, a Web site that analyzes music data from around the world. It is also the only Chinese-language
NO CHANGE: US officials indicated that the ‘one China’ policy remains in place, while the NATO chief avoided discussing Biden’s comment in an effort to ease tensions US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said on Friday that the Pentagon would continue to support Taiwan’s military, but he declined to say if US troops would defend the island against China, after US President Joe Biden said there was a US “commitment” to do so. “As we’ve done over multiple administrations, we will continue to help Taiwan with the sorts of capabilities that it needs to defend itself,” Austin said at NATO headquarters. “So we’ll stay focused on those things, and I won’t engage in any hypotheticals with respect to Taiwan,” he told reporters. Biden on Thursday sparked a new firestorm
PROTECTION: The Ministry of Health and Welfare is aiming for a full vaccination rate of 30 percent, and allowing mixed first and second doses to boost coverage rates Whether Taiwan reopens its borders would depend on the nation’s vaccination coverage rate and the COVID-19 situation in other countries, Deputy Minister of Health and Welfare Shih Chung-liang (石崇良) said yesterday. The Ministry of Health and Welfare is aiming for a 70 percent first-dose vaccination coverage and 30 percent two-dose coverage as part of its consideration, Shih told a media briefing following the weekly Cabinet meeting. In spite of a relatively stable COVID-19 situation in Taiwan, and calls from foreign missions and businesses in the country to allow more international travelers, the government is maintaining strict border control measures. Since March last year,
SCENIC TRAIN TOURS: TRA Director-General Du Wei said experts on aesthetics and railway culture have worked for 10 months to restore the blue locomotive Breezy Blue, the Taiwan Railways Administration’s (TRA) tourism train, is to be launched on the South Link Line on Saturday. The railway operator spent about 10 months restoring the blue diesel-powered train, which first provided service to students and commuters before being outsourced to Lion Travel, which organizes railway tour packages. TRA Director-General Du Wei (杜微) told reporters on the sidelines of a ceremony in Pingtung County’s Fangliao Township (枋寮) that the agency hopes that the restored Breezy Blue would provide an authentic experience to railway fans as well as those with fond memories of riding the blue trains to work or