Wed, Apr 04, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Truck driver death probe delay protested

RECORD DISPUTED:Lu Chih-wei’s case shows how easy it is for firms to fabricate work hours, an activist said, adding that the ministry must improve its inspections

By Ann Maxon  /  Staff reporter

A Ministry of Labor spokesman, right, outside the ministry in Taipei yesterday, talks to relatives of Shan-loong Transportation truck driver Lu Chih-wei, who died of a brain hemorrhage in May last year.

Photo: CNA

Workers’ rights groups yesterday protested outside the Ministry of Labor in Taipei, urging officials to speed up a probe into the death of truck driver Lu Chih-wei (呂智偉), who they believe died from overwork in May last year.

Lu, an employee of Shan-loong Transportation (山隆通運), lost consciousness on March 31 during a delivery.

Although Lu was immediately sent to hospital, he was diagnosed with an intracerebral hemorrhage and died on May 25.

His wife, surnamed Cheng (鄭), said she did not immediately provide information about her husband’s work hours to the ministry’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration when he was hospitalized because she was too busy taking care of him, his parents and their three children.

Cheng had explained to ministry officials why she did not immediately provide the information, but the administration compiled a report on Lu’s death based on work hour records provided by the company and concluded that he did not die from overwork, she said.

In August last year, Cheng, who worked with her husband every day, submitted Lu’s work hour records to the administration and demanded a reinvestigation.

“The administration’s representative questioned my version of the work hour records because they were very different from those provided by the company,” Cheng said.

Cheng’s records show Lu worked for more than 300 hours almost every month in the six months leading up to his death, while the company said he worked between 113 and 203 hours per month.

The administration eventually agreed to reinvestigation Lu’s case, but eight months have passed and it still has not completed the investigation, she said.

Cheng also criticized the way the company handled the issue, saying it did not contact the family until Lu’s death was reported in the media.

“Several days ago, [Lu’s manager] Yang Ying-che (楊英哲) visited us and threatened us, saying that he had talked to his connections in the government and to gangsters. That made me wonder why it has taken the administration so long to reinvestigate the case,” she said. “I have lost my husband and my children lost their father, but we are not scared. All I want is justice for my husband.”

“I hope the administration can give us an answer soon. We have been waiting for so long and the process is painful. We don’t know what more we can do,” she added.

Taiwan Association for Victims of Occupational Injuries secretary-general Yang Kuo-cheng (楊國禎) said the ministry’s Department of Civil Service Ethics should investigate whether certain officials have been deliberately delaying the investigation due to Yang Ying-che’s influence.

Lu’s case shows how easy it is for companies to fabricate work hours, Yang Kuo-cheng said, adding that the ministry must improve its inspections, especially under the new labor laws, which allow workers to work for longer hours with less rest time between shifts.

The ministry said the report on Lu has already been sent to medical experts and that it should be able to determine whether he died from overwork in the next two months.

In a telephone interview, Yang Ying-che said that Lu’s family misunderstood him and that the company has been handling the matter according to the law.

Additional reporting by CNA

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