Fri, May 25, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Union slams THSRC raise policy

CONTRIBUTION ISSUE:One female conductor said that she was told she did not receive an increase because she had ‘chosen family over work’ when taking parental leave

By Ann Maxon  /  Staff reporter

Members of the Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp labor union protest yesterday outside the Cathay Financial Center on Songren Road in Taipei, where the company was scheduled to hold a shareholders’ meeting.

Photo: CNA

Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp’s (THSRC) labor union yesterday criticized the company for excluding employees on parental leave from the company’s annual salary increase plans, which it said has caused some experienced employees to be paid less than new staff.

About 30 union members yesterday morning protested outside the Cathay Financial Center on Songren Road in Taipei, where the company was scheduled to hold a shareholders’ meeting.

Over the past three years, the company has increased salaries for all nonmanagerial employees, except those who happened to be away on parental leave, union secretary Kao Juo-hsiang (高若想) said.

A total of 28 employees — most of them mothers of young children who have worked at the company for many years — have received less or no raise due to having been on unpaid parental leave the year before each general increase, the first of which was “completely unexpected, as the company had not done so for more than a decade,” she said.

The company tried to justify its decision to cut their raises by saying that it would have been unfair to those who had not been away on leave, Kao said.

To prove it wrong, the union has launched a petition in the company backing the parents who received less or no raises and was able to collect about 500 signatures in just a week, she said.

“Most of the employees that support the petition have not been on parental leave. The company should take our request more seriously and stop trying to divide us,” she said.

A female conductor surnamed Wang (汪) said she was told by the company that she did not receive a raise because she did not contribute to the company while on leave, and that by applying for parental leave she had “chosen family over work.”

“I joined the company before the first high-speed rail train even began running. The company has had some financial problems and because of that I have not had a raise for about six years. When it finally decided to raise salaries across the board, I was left out because I was on parental leave,” she said, adding that she felt as if she has been punished for having children.

Others that joined the company at about the same time as she did are now paid NT$1,500 to NT$2,000 more than her, she said.

“The union filed for labor arbitration late last year, hoping to resolve the dispute in a peaceful and rational manner, but negotiations failed due to the company’s unwillingness to cooperate,” Kao said.

According to the company’s policy, employees on unpaid parental leave enjoy better treatment than those on other types of unpaid leave, THSRC spokeswoman Chung Rae-fang (鍾蕊芳) said.

In the past three years, nonmanagerial employees who worked a minimum of 183 days during the prior year all received full raises, she said.

Those who worked less than 183 days due to being on parental leave received pro rata raises if they had worked during the prior year, she said.

The policy does not contravene the Act of Gender Equality in Employment (性別工作平等法), because men and women are treated equally if they apply for parental leave, Chung said.

“The company will consider any suggestions that are reasonable and review its policies,” she added.

Nearly 100 THSRC employees are rumoured to be planning to refuse to work during the Dragon Boat Festival to fight for their right to enjoy public holidays, but Chung said the company is communicating with staff to ensure quality service during the holiday.

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