Several toll fee collectors yesterday handed a petition to the Legislative Yuan accusing the government of breaking a promise to give them severance pay.
The new toll-fee scheme took effect across the nation’s freeways yesterday, meaning drivers are to be charged based on the kilometers traveled as recorded on eTags, rather than by the number of toll booths passed.
The bureau started removing the toll booths along the freeways yesterday, with the removal scheduled to be finished by the Lunar New Year holiday.
Meanwhile, 938 toll fee collectors lost their jobs.
Former toll collector Lin Li-wen (林莉雯) said that the bureau had promised in a press release to increase their severance pay by another seven months of salary.
However, the bureau later changed the statement and said that the workers would be compensated with up to seven months’ pay.
Lin said that none of the toll collectors have received any compensation from the bureau.
National Freeway Bureau Chief Secretary Cheng Chorng-been (鄭崇賓) said that the toll collectors would be compensated according to two different regulations.
People starting work before 2002 are to be compensated based on the Executive Yuan Subordinated Agencies Contracted-Employee Regulations (行政院暨所屬機關約聘人員僱用辦法), receiving seven months of salary as an additional payment for voluntarily leaving their job.
“Their contracts were renewed every year, so seniority is not an issue,” Cheng said, adding that 30 percent of the toll collectors belong in this category.
However, the majority of the toll collectors are to be paid based on the Labor Standards Act (勞基法), as the Executive Yuan decided in 2002 to limit the numbers at each government agency and hired temporary workers, Cheng said.
Based on the act, those who have worked at toll stations for six years are legally entitled to receive three months of severance pay, Cheng said, adding that the bureau decided to add a fourth month of salary on top of the legal requirement as part of a severance package.
Cheng added that all the severance payments would be delivered to the employees before Jan. 15.
He added that Far Eastern Toll Collection (FETC), the contractor administering the electronic toll collection system, has promised to help a toll collectors find new jobs at FETC.
The contractor is offering five months of salary as compensation if the toll collector turns down the new arrangement.
For many collectors, it was an emotional moment to see the structures they have worked in for years being torn down.
“It was really sad to see that the toll booths have now become history,” said former toll collector Peng Hsiang-chun (彭湘君), who worked at Cidu Toll Station.
Peng traveled to Taishan (泰山) Toll Station in New Taipei City (新北市) to see it one last time.
She broke down in tears and hugged her colleagues after seeing the billboard taken down by a crane.
Taishan was the oldest toll station on the national freeways, built in 1974.
The bureau is keeping one toll booth in both the northbound and southbound lanes of Taishan Toll Station in the north, the Dajia Toll Station (大甲) in central Taiwan and Tienliao (田寮) in the south as historical monuments.