Strikes at Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) stations in northeastern Taiwan might affect travelers on the Tomb Sweeping Day long weekend on April 2 to April 5, the Yilan branch of the TRA labor union said on Friday.
At least 200 union members would go on strike to protest the railway agency’s unilateral proposal to adjust working hours, which would lead to reduced incomes for its employees, said Wu Chun-yi (吳俊義), who heads the branch.
The branch has 1,200 members, including train drivers, train conductors, technicians, maintenance workers and ticketing agents. Of them, 300 are station workers.
About two-thirds of all station workers in the region have pledged to go on strike, Wu said, adding that this might paralyze train traffic over the long weekend, when many people are expected to travel to the resting places of their ancestors to pay them respect.
No train drivers or train service personnel would take part, but shortages of station staff might affect arrival and departure procedures, as well as ticketing, he said.
Wu said that the union was “forced to fight” the proposal.
“Hopefully the public can understand,” he added.
According to the TRA’s proposal from August last year, station workers would be grouped in four shifts — instead of the current three — but train stations would continue to be operated in three shifts, resulting in fewer working hours for the workers.
The TRA aims to ensure that all employees have two days off per week and that they work fever overtime hours, but unions say that many workers rely on overtime pay to supplement their regular salary.
The plan might lead to a NT$9,000 drop in a station worker’s monthly salaries, Wu said.
Before announcing the adjustment to the three-shift system, which had been in place for more than 30 years, the TRA had not consulted with the union, Wu added.
“If the TRA does not want to allow us to work overtime, then we will not work overtime during the long weekend,” Wu said.
No other branches of the union have announced that they would strike on the long weekend, but some branches have said that they would protest against the adjustment if it is implemented.
In response to the strike announcement, the TRA said it would continue to communicate with all branches of the union and would not make any changes to station worker shifts without union consent.
The TRA said it is prepared for increased traffic over the long weekend.
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