Tue, Sep 06, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Protests, marches keeping Cabinet officials occupied

SEPTEMBER STRIFE:With Taiwan Power employees to protest, members of the tourism industry unhappy and rail employees working to rule, it is a busy month

By Lee Hsin-fang and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

This month is shaping up to be a busy one protest-wise for the Executive Yuan, with marches and rallies against everything from proposed legal reforms and working hours to the state of the economy.

On the heels of Saturday’s protests by public-sector retirees against what they call the “stigmatization” of public-sector pensioners, Taiwan Power Co employees yesterday launched a protest against planned amendments to the Electricity Act (電業法).

A chapter of the Taiwan Power Labor Union is urging its members to fight for their rights by joining a march from Pingtung County’s Hengchun Township (恆春) to the doors of the Executive Yuan and the Ministry of Economic Affairs in Taipei, where they hope to arrive by Sept. 19.

Minister Without Portfolio Chang Ching-sen (張景森) has been in touch with the union about the amendments, the Executive Yuan said.

Meanwhile, unhappy with the decline in Chinese tourists visiting Taiwan since President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) inauguration, 10,000 people representing 12 tourism-industry associations are planning a protest on Ketagalan Boulevard on Monday next week.

The organizers said the protesters plan to unite under the banner: “Our industry faces a perilous autumn — this must not be ignored by the government.”

Chang on Friday last week met with General Chamber of Commerce chairman Lai Cheng-i (賴正鎰) and other industry representatives, telling them that the government would take steps to resolve the short-term problems created by the drop in arrivals from China. Lai has interests in hotels, theme parks and high-end merchandise — businesses that have traditionally profited from Chinese tourists.

The Executive Yuan has already taken steps to deal with the impact, such as working with banks to assist in financing for tourism-related businesses and taking steps to boost tourism from other areas, Chang told the meeting.

In addition, the government is concerned about the impact that Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) employees taking their legally mandated holidays during the long Mid-Autumn Festival weekend might have on travelers during the holiday.

The railway union has said its members would take their leave during the Sept. 15 to Sept. 18 weekend to avoid being overworked.

An Executive Yuan official who declined to be named said that train tickets for the holiday are already sold out and said legislators are working with the Ministry of Transportation and Communications and the Ministry of Labor in the hope of coordinating with the railways agency.

The Executive Yuan hopes travelers will not be inconvenienced, but the Cabinet respects the interests of TRA employees and will “do its best to communicate” [with the union], the official said.

“There is no shortage of protests taking place this month, but the Executive Yuan is responding and communicating accordingly,” the official said.

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