Newspaper article China Post

Toll Worker Compensation Package Appears Generous

Newspaper article China Post

Toll Worker Compensation Package Appears Generous

Article excerpt

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The dispute between laid-off toll workers, the government and Far Eastern Electronic Toll Collection Co. (FETC), reached a milestone Wednesday when an agreement was reached over financial compensation. Through a statement released early Wednesday, the toll workers' protest group announced that an "agreement has been reached" with the government on a number of issues, including compensation for seniority and employment arrangements for former toll workers.

The conflict has been simmering since the introduction of the Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) system was announced in 2003, and came to a head in 2013 with the official introduction of electronic tolling on national highways. However, disputes soon broke out, with the toll workers that were laid off launching fierce protests - including blocking highway sections - and complaining about an allegedly poorly executed compensation process.

Those complaints were in fact taken up by and their validity endorsed by the government. In 2014, a warning of a NT$500,000 per day fine was issued to the FETC by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) after evidence of transgressions was revealed, such as enforcing the unreasonable requirement to "reply by the seventh of the month" to a new job offer, a failure to attach proof of employment to resumes, and arranging new jobs outside the 30-kilometer radius around workers' homes.

Of the 947 toll workers whose jobs were terminated, 183 are still unemployed. Five hundred and seventy-nine people have accepted five months' worth of pay, and 216 have accepted job re-allocations, according to the United Evening News.

The most commendable part of the approach taken by the Tsai government in these negotiations is the effort invested in not affecting existing labor compensation. The pension system is already under heavy stress and sensitive, emotional discussions about reform are underway, with accusations of selfishness and blame being traded back-and-forth among various parties who basically stand on different sides of the spectrum on how much they deserve and how much other parties are failing to sacrifice. …

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