Sat, Jan 23, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Railway workers call off Lunar New Year strike

TEMPORARY TRUCE:THSRC has agreed to pay half of the disputed overtime pay and hire more workers to ease the load on current employees, the union said

By Abraham Gerber  /  Staff reporter

Threats of a Lunar New Year strike by railway workers appear to have been averted, following the announcement of an interim agreement between the labor union and Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp (THSRC).

In a press release late on Thursday night following a marathon 10 hours of negotiations, the union announced that it had agreed to a temporary “truce” after THSRC agreed to pay half of the disputed overtime pay to company employees within six months.

The firm also agreed to hire 491 new workers, the union said.

The union earlier this month issued an ultimatum, threatening to “take a holiday” and stop trains during the Lunar New Year rush unless THSRC paid accumulated overtime and stopped compelling employees to work overtime.

Overtime pay and work hours have been major points of contention since the union was established in 2014, with the union claiming that employees had been denied the right to compensatory leave for national holidays even as the corporation used accounting tricks to deny them overtime pay.

A man surnamed Chiang (江), who served as the union’s spokesman, said that the agreement reached on Thursday also included a formula under which overtime benefits would be calculated.

He said the corporation also promised to stop forcing workers to work overtime, but there were still questions about how well its promises would be implemented.

He attributed the agreement to intervention by the Bureau of High Speed Rail, the government agency that supervises the operation of the THSRC, saying government-hosted talks put pressure on the THSRC to compromise.

Bureau Chief Secretary Young Cheng-chung (楊正君) said the THSRC had agreed to pay half of the disputed overtime pay as a “bonus” to employees and that this would not be withdrawn even if the union loses an ongoing lawsuit.

He added that the union’s and company’s positions continue to differ on the number of workers that need to be hired to give employees the option of not having to work overtime.

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