Former minister of transportation and communications Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時) questioned how the administration was able to find the legal grounds to provide compensation for former toll collectors, after the Executive Yuan took credit for resolving the issue concerning compensation for former toll collectors that had plagued the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government.
Former toll fee collectors claimed victory on Wednesday following an announcement by the Executive Yuan that it agreed to offer them additional compensation for losing their jobs after the nation adopted the electronic toll fee collection (ETC) system on all freeways, for which they have been protesting for about three years.
To make their appeals known to the public, former toll collectors have engaged in sensational forms of protest, such as climbing onto the toll-collecting gantries on the freeways and tracking down residences of Yeh and former premier Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國) in a bid to confront the two officials.
Yeh yesterday said he admires the efforts the administration has made to protect the workers’ interests, adding that all the government contractors who were laid off should rise up and fight for their share of the compensation.
Yeh said that both the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) and the Ministry of Labor had explored all legal resources to offer additional compensation to toll collectors, but could not find any means to do so.
He said he was curious as to how the government was able to find a legitimate reason to subsidize the toll collectors, adding that he trusted the public would judge for themselves by comparing the actions taken by the previous and current administrations.
National Freeway Bureau statistics showed that 947 toll collectors lost their jobs, with two of them having yet to terminate their contracts with the bureau for sustaining on-the-job injuries.
All of them received severance packages from the bureau, depending on whether they were contractors or temporary government workers.
Meanwhile, 579 of them have taken an additional five-month severance pay package offered by Far Eastern Electronic Toll Collection Co, which runs the ETC system, and found jobs elsewhere, while 216 of them accepted jobs arranged by the company and are to be subsidized for wage differences for five years.
The remaining 150 former toll collectors either quit from the jobs arranged by the company, refused its job offers or did not take the company’s severance pay.
It is estimated that the government will spend about NT$500 million (US$15.9 million) of taxpayers’ money to compensate the workers, in addition to the NT$220 million that it has already given them.
MOTC Deputy Minister Wang Kwo-tsai (王國材) said the former toll collectors had received compensation from both the National Freeway Bureau and the company and were guaranteed the same salaries they earned for five years, but the money can only sustain them for a short period.
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