A laid-off workers’ alliance yesterday decided to suspend its New Year’s Eve “Occupy MRT Station” protest, but said that its next round of demonstrations would take place “any time” at MRT stations.
In a statement, the alliance said that because its plan had been made public and a large number of police officers had been stationed at each MRT station in Taipei to prevent their protest, they had been forced to suspend the demonstrations.
The alliance said it also did not want the elderly workers protesting in the cold. It added that the next round of occupations at MRT stations could take place any time.
The workers congregated at several MRT stations on Saturday and Sunday bearing banners apologizing to commuters for the inconvenience they expected their protest to create.
The workers also protested at the Ximending (西門町) MRT station and outside the residence of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) on Sunday.
The laid-off workers — most of whom are more than 60 years old — were employed in several companies that went out of business in the 1990s. When the employers either declared bankruptcy or fled overseas, they left their employees without the salaries, severance payments and retirement pensions that they were owed. The Council of Labor Affairs granted severance and retirement payments to the workers in the form of loans it promised they would not have to repay.
However, in June last year, all the workers received letters from the council asking them to repay the loans, including interest and late payment fines, and those who were unable to do so were sued by the council.
The workers have asked the council to withdraw the lawsuits.