Tue, Feb 07, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Eden foundation should pay drivers overtime: union

By Abraham Gerber  /  Staff reporter

The Eden Social Welfare Foundation should provide back wages for uncompensated overtime for requiring its drivers to be on standby during rest periods, workers’ union officials said yesterday.

“The key issue is that standby time should not be considered rest,” union director Lee Lan-hsing (李藍星) said, adding that the foundation has for years required drivers to keep an eye on their vehicles and be prepared to drive at a moment’s notice during rest time.

The foundation provides subsidized specialty bus services for disabled passengers, but has drawn controversy over its working conditions.

Although the Taipei Labor Department already ruled that the foundation violated labor rules by counting drivers’ standby time as rest time, the foundation has refused to compensate drivers for loss of overtime pay, Lee said.

Drivers work 10 hours daily with an additional hour of flexible rest time inserted between rides, he said.

The union estimates that each driver is owed about NT$40,000 (US$1,293) in annual overtime pay because of the practice.

Lee also called for a restructuring of drivers’ salary to include a guaranteed salary above the minimum wage.

Currently drivers earn more than the minimum wage only when bonuses based on rides provided are factored in, giving foundation officials undue influence over driver salaries, he said.

“Even though it is not technically illegal, the reality is that our performance bonuses are different from those in professions like sales. Salespeople can earn more commission if they put more time into pursuing additional cases, but we are dependent on the foundation for each ride,” he said.

In response, foundation operations divisions head Wang Chao-shu (王昭恕) said that drivers’ rest time is free and unsupervised, and they can apply for overtime if something unexpected happens, which prevents them from finishing work on time.

The foundation is willing to continue negotiations with the union, he said, adding that the union could also apply for arbitration or bring a legal suit if they are not satisfied with the proceedings.

Additional reporting by Wu Po-wei

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