Minister of Transportation and Communications Chen Jian-yu (陳建宇) on Wednesday said that he remains optimistic that the dispute between the Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp (THSRC) and its labor union would be resolved before the Lunar New Year holiday, adding that the ministry has prepared a backup plan if negotiations between the two parties fail.
Chen made the statement at a press conference to unveil the ministry’s plans to transport homebound passengers during the Lunar New Year holiday — the most important and longest holiday of the year.
On Tuesday, the THSRC labor union continued to insist that the company pay the overtime pay that it owes to employees first, or they would go on strike on the Lunar New Year holiday as planned.
The union is scheduled to make its official announcement regarding the strike today.
Chen said that it was perfectly understandable and legitimate for the union to fight for the interests of its members, but it should handle the matter rationally and should not refuse to negotiate.
Chen added that the company has reserved NT$500 million (US$14.78 million) to cover the overtime pay once the administrative lawsuit regarding this matter is finalized, meaning that the company has shown goodwill to resolve the dispute.
“While the union has been working to resolve the issue, they should not forget their duty as a responsible ‘transportation man,’” Chen said.
“The company has been working hard to create a good corporate image, and people would think negatively about the company because of the strike,” he said.
Chen said he had also asked the Bureau of High Speed Rail, the government agency that supervises the operation of the THSRC, to consider if there are other alternative solutions to the quagmire.
He said the ministry is prepared to set up an ad hoc team to cope with the crisis should negotiations fail, adding that both the Directorate-General of Highways and Taiwan Railways Administration have enough capacity to absorb the passengers switched from the high-speed rail system.
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