A signature drive launched on Thursday by the National Train Drivers’ Union to go on strike could affect Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) services over the upcoming Mid-Autumn Festival and Double Ten National Day holidays.
TRA unions have expressed dissatisfaction with the government’s perceived “lack of action” regarding ancillary laws to accompany the Act for the Establishment of State-owned Taiwan Railway Company (國營臺灣鐵路股份有限公司設置條例).
The ancillary laws are intended to address concerns over working hours, compensation and safety.
Photo: Taipei Times
The Executive Yuan and the Ministry of Transportation and Communications started talks following employee protests last year, but there has not been any follow-up, National Train Drivers’ Union secretary-general Wu Chang-chih (吳長智) said yesterday.
“We feel that we have no recourse but to protest, as the channels of communication have not been fruitful,” he said.
One issue that concerns conductors is the handbrakes on EMU-3000 trains failing to work for several seconds after they are pulled.
Conductors also often encounter people or vehicles crossing the tracks, people jumping off platforms and falling rocks, Wu said, adding that these endanger drivers and cause them psychological stress.
Initial measures would allow work on Saturday to be counted as overtime and drivers who exceed their allotted overtime hours would be able to accumulate them into days off, he said.
However, the TRA has also initiated a time limitation, which, along with the requirement that drivers to be on standby for two hours before work officially starts, means they might have too many days off, but do not have the time to take those days off and cannot trade them in for cash, he said.
That essentially means drivers are working overtime for no pay and no time off, he added.
As new trains are about to enter service, the TRA’s policy of running trains across multiple tracks would create a shortage of conductors, despite expanded hiring, he said.
TRA Director-General Du Wei (杜微) said the agency is still in talks with unions.
Deputy Minister of Transportation and Communications Allen Hu (胡湘麟) said the ministry had been in continuous talks with the Taiwan Railway Labor Union, and was puzzled why the National Train Drivers’ Union is making such demands.
Hu said he is in talks with the National Train Drivers’ Union to understand their demands and the Taiwan Railway Labor Union’s role in the protest plans.
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