Taipower workers protest cuts to year-end bonuses

By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff reporter

Sat, Jan 05, 2013 - Page 3

Dozens of Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) Union members yesterday protested the possible cancellation or reduction of their year-end bonuses as the Ministry of Economic Affairs, citing financial losses, gave the firm a “B” grade for its performance.

“Normally, the amount of year-end bonus that employees get depends on performance, but it should not be the case for a state-run business like Taipower, because our objective is not making money; rather, it’s our job to provide a service to the public in accordance with government policies, even if that means losing money,” Taipower Union president Hu Kuo-kang (胡國康) told a news conference at the Legislative Yuan yesterday.

Hu said Taipower was losing tens of billions of New Taiwan dollars every year because of what the ministry asks it to do.

For instance, Hu said the ministry asks it to provide power for industry for a charge that is not sufficient to cover the cost of generating the power.

“The Executive Yuan and the ministry also asked us to build a new power system that will cost NT$195 billion [US$6.7 billion,] even though an assessment within Taipower found that the system was not necessary,” Hu said.

“If the government asks us to do things that are not good for the company’s business interests and will not shoulder responsibility, then please allow Taipower to be privatized so that we could make business decisions independently and be responsible for our own decisions,” he said.

Taipower employees were upset after Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-shiang (施顏祥) said that the bonus system for state-run businesses needed to be reformed, because many such businesses — including Taipower — had come under public criticism for awarding high bonuses despite poor performances.

Taipower employees are also unhappy that the minister only gave a “B” grade to the company’s overall performance last year, citing financial deficits as one of the reasons.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators Chiang Hui-cheng (江惠貞) and Alan Wu (吳育仁) both took part in the press conference to show their support for Taipower employees.

“It’s not fair to ask Taipower employees to shoulder the responsibility for deficits, because deficits are a result of policy decisions, thus it’s the decision makers who should be held responsible,” Chiang said.

Wu agreed, urging the ministry to take deficits caused by policy decisions out of the balance sheet when calculating Taipower employees’ work performance.