Thu, Jun 14, 2018 - Page 4 News List

Corporatizing TRA is ‘barbaric’: union

UNILATERAL:A corporatized TRA would limit personnel and infrastructure investment, the union said, adding that the MOTC should listen to members before deciding policy

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Railway union officials said the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) should first hear from Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) employees before it meets today to discuss turning the TRA into a corporation.

Minister of Transportation and Communications Hochen Tan (賀陳旦) on Friday last week announced that the ministry would finalize a six-month plan for converting the TRA from a government agency into a corporation, although it remains unclear whether the new entity would be a private, state-run or state-owned corporation.

The Taiwan Railway Labor Union (TRLU) said in a statement that it was shocked to hear Hochen’s announcement, saying that the ministry has made the decision unilaterally.

“Judging from his statement, the ministry will start calculating the seniority of all employees under the current pension scheme and change it into a portable pension system,” the union said.

The union said it strongly opposed Hochen’s statement and asked its members to stay calm in face of the ministry’s “barbaric measure,” adding that it is prepared to “handle the matter.”

The union urged members to vote in union elections next month and said they should stay united, adding that the ministry could exploit conflicts between the TRLU and the Taiwan Railway Union — a union formed by younger TRA employees — to reach its aim of corporatizing the TRA.

Corporatizating the TRA would not solve challenges facing the 131-year-old railway operator as it modernizes operations, the TRLU said.

“A corporatized TRA would only pursue profits and limit investment in infrastructure and personnel,” the union said. “Once it encounters financial difficulties, the corporation might be forced to sell its assets to maintain its operations.”

An ad hoc team entrusted with the task of corporatizing the TRA under the newly established Railway Bureau lacks the authorization to make a final decision, it said.

For example, a team was established at the Cabinet level when state-owned Japan Railway was corporatized, it added.

The ministry and the TRA should not cut deals behind the union’s back, TRLU chairman Chang Wen-cheng (張文正) said, adding that they should formulate policy after talking with the union.

“The union will not avoid talking about the corporatization of the TRA, because the policy concerns every employee — their voices must be heard,” Chang said. “We are scheduled to hold a union representative assembly in October and we will respond to ministry requests after that. If the ministry makes a move before then, we will be forced to go on strike.”

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