KMT reinstates party workers’ benefits

MAKING ENDS MEET::The KMT said it is struggling to meet personnel and operational expenses after its funds were frozen as part of an investigation into its ill-gotten assets

By Shih Hsiao-kuang and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Sat, Sep 24, 2016 - Page 3

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) has been forced to reinstate benefits that it was withholding since July after workers threatened legal action.

The KMT recently started paying pensions to retirees and the 18 percent preferential interest rate it pays on current employees’ retirement savings accounts.

According to party members, the KMT stopped paying the benefits in July and also canceled bonuses this year, which would normally be paid out at the end of last month amounting to one to two months’ salary.

The KMT said it is struggling to meet personnel and operational expenditures, as its funds have been frozen as part of the government’s ongoing investigations into ill-gotten party assets.

A party worker who declined to be named said bonuses are paid for work-related performance between July 1 and June 30 of the following year and that they are based on a labor and management agreement, which should not be changed unilaterally.

The worker added that people who retired after July 1 received their bonuses.

“Could it be that the party headquarters is alluding that only those willing to leave would get their money?” the worker asked.

The KMT workers’ union said it can “reluctantly accept” the cancelation of seasonal bonuses, but added that annual bonuses should be considered a part of regular salary and that it would not give them up.

It said that it would take the issue to the Taipei City Department of Labor if it cannot be resolved through negotiations with the party.

A party member, who declined to be named, said the party sees the bonuses as a reward for the results of workers’ efforts over the previous year, and said it would “pay the bonuses on the basis of principle.”

The party member added that preparations are under way to make the bonus payments, which are to come to a total of more than NT$30 million (US$957,548).

Aside from the KMT’s fixed annual income of NT$160 million in government subsidies and NT$50 million in party membership dues, its collects about NT$1 billion in annual revenue from its two major financial enterprises, Central Investment Co and Hsinyutai Co.

Some people said that the two companies might cease to be a source of revenue for the party if they come under investigation next year, leaving the party with only its fixed income to rely on.

Such a scenario would leave the party unable to cover its annual expenses.

KMT Chairwoman Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) has adjusted salaries at the party’s top administration and reduced the operations of its auxiliary branches.

Local KMT offices in Keelung were closed, with their operations taken over by the main branch in the city. The branch office in Taipei was also closed, with the party headquarters taking over its operations.