Taiwan Yam TV faces fine for mass dismissals

SHAKE-UP::Taiwan Yam TV installed new management last year, who laid off 47 workers in violation of the Act on Protection Against the Mass Dismissal of Employees

By Hung Jui-chin, Lin Chia-chi and Jason Pan  /  Staff reporters, with Staff writer

Sun, Jan 20, 2013 - Page 3

The new management of Taiwan Yam TV (台灣蕃薯台) will be fined for violating the Act on Protection Against the Mass Dismissal of Employees (大量解雇勞工保護法), Greater Tainan Government officials said.

The station’s management failed to submit a proposal report 60 days prior to its dismissal of 47 employees and therefore faces a fine of between NT$100,000 and NT$500,000 (US$3,499 to US$17,247), officials at the city government’s Labor Affairs Department said, adding that the department will issue the fine as soon as the paperwork and due procedure is completed.

According to the city government, it will be the first time that it issues such a penalty.

In a highly contentious move by the station’s board of directors in a meeting last month, Wang Ben-hu (汪笨湖), then-chairman of the TV station and a popular host with the pro-Taiwan audience, was discharged and was replaced by a new managing director, Hsu Yao-jen (許耀仁).

The Tainan-based Taiwan Yam TV’s main financial backer is Winston Wong (王文洋) and his Grace T.H.W. Group (宏仁企業集團). Wong is the eldest son of the founder of Formosa Plastics Group, Wang Yung-ching (王永慶).

The 47 employees who received dismissal notices claim that the company owes them more than NT$1 million in wages for the past two months.

Meanwhile, Hsu said: “Our company is the real victim here.”

Hsu said he went to the station on Dec. 18 last year to pave the way for a smooth transition by first giving employees five days of paid leave. However, the very next day the workers went to the Labor Affairs Department and filed a complaint, asking the department to mediate in their wage dispute, he said.

“It was the Labor Affairs Department that demanded that we first give a proposal report on the mass dismissal of employees,” Hsu said. “We were forced to comply and to submit the report.”

Amid restructuring of the board last month, the management changed the locks on the TV station’s front door. Fearing being made jobless, workers pitched tents in front of the TV station building in a protest action.

After continual protests and four negotiation sessions, a tentative agreement was reached between the two sides on Jan. 4.

A union spokesperson said communication between management and dismissed employees was not handled well.

“They [management] forcefully removed broadcasting equipment in the middle of the night, so employees lodged an appeal with the department. How can the management now put the blame [for the mass-dismissal decision] on the employees?” he said.

According to Hsu, capitalization of the TV station came to NT$170 million. The station has already run up a deficit of NT$100 million in its first year of operation alone, he said.

“For us to continue to operate, the station needs restructuring and we had to let some of the employees go,” he said.

Hsu added that “we will add 20 percent to the severance pay package, as mandated in the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法). Whatever the law dictates, we will comply.”