Apple Daily union demands apology from investors

By Jake Chung  /  Staff writer, with CNA

Fri, Nov 16, 2012 - Page 3

Accusing Next Media Group chairman Jimmy Lai (黎智英), Next Media Group executive director Cassian Cheung (張嘉聲) and Chinatrust Charity Foundation chairman Jeffrey Koo Jr (辜仲諒) of lying to the public, the Apple Daily union group yesterday demanded a public apology from the trio.

The allegations came after Next Media Group announced the sale off its four core subsidiaries in Taiwan, but subsequently denied the involvement of Tsai Eng-ming (蔡衍明), the Want Want China Times Group’s (旺旺中時集團) chairman, in the purchase.

Next Media, in an announcement filed to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on Oct. 17, confirmed that it had signed a memorandum of understanding with Koo, who has agreed to purchase the Apple Daily, the Sharp Daily, Next Magazine and Next TV.

Koo’s co-investors in the deal include Formosa Plastics Group chairman William Wong (王文淵) and a Singapore-based private equity firm.

Lai said in an interview with the Apple Daily published on Oct. 18 that he decided to finalize the sale of the four media outlets after ensuring that none of the funding would come from Tsai.

The Chinese-language Wealth Magazine reported in its latest edition on Thursday last week that Tsai had provided NT$9 billion (US$310 million) of the NT$17.5 billion offered for the purchase.

The government should investigate the source of the funding and if there were any illegalities, and the sale should be prohibited from going through, the union group said in a statement yesterday, adding that the government should strive for the separation of the financial sector and other industries, and avoid media monopolization.

The union called on investors to refrain from implementing policies that might affect wages, benefits and labor rights of the 1,300 workers at Apple Daily, adding that it would be talking with the new investors as soon as possible to negotiate a collective agreement and sign an editorial statute.

Article 2 of the Collective Agreement Act (團體協約法) states that a collective agreement is a written agreement reached between an employer or employer organization with legal status and a labor union in accordance with the Labor Union Act (工會法) for the purpose of governing labor relations and other related matters.

If the new investors do not agree, the union said it would bring the case to the attention of the Council of Labor Affairs on grounds of inappropriate action.

The union added it will stage a sit-in protest starting at 9pm today to make its wishes known.