Railway union blasts Executive Yuan for policy flip-flop

Taipei--The Taiwan Railway Union (TRU) blasted the Executive Yuan, Taiwan's top administrative branch, on Monday for its changing position on the right of TRU members to take leave during the six-day Lunar New Year holiday that began on Jan. 27.

TRU Chairman Wang Chieh (??) made the comments after Executive Yuan spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung (???) said the same day that the Cabinet "supports" the stance of Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA) and the Ministry of Transportation and Communications on public transport services during national holidays.

Hsu explained that although TRA employees are entitled to take reasonable breaks and leave from work, "as public transportation personnel they have a social responsibility to meet public demand."

In response, Wang said "I don't know what is happening with the Executive Yuan," after the official statement which appeared to represent a change of opinion from remarks by Minister without Portfolio Lin Wan-yi (???) a few days ago.

He said Lin characterized the TRU's demand for legal work leave during national holidays as "a legal action."

More than 200 TRU members did not show up for work as instructed on the Lunar New Year's Day and the following day on Jan. 28-29. The no-show was orchestrated by the workers' union which cited overwork, staff shortfalls and management's failure to listen to their demands, as the reasons for the action.

Those who participated in the no-show were all taking "a legal break," Wang said, noting that if anyone is disciplined as a result of their legal absence from work during the holiday, the union will assist them fighting for their rights.

On Sunday, TRA Director-General Lu Chieh-shen (???) urged employees to "jointly maintain the TRA's outstanding tradition" of providing a public service during the busiest time of the year. On Jan. 24, members of Taiwan Railway Union filed a legal complaint against Lu for forcing railway personnel to work during the Lunar New Year holiday from Jan. 27-Feb. 1.

In a Facebook post, Lu said he has "actively taken up" union members' requests, which resulted in a "positive response" from the Ministry of Transportation and Communications and the Executive Yuan.

As for union members' legal action to not work during the holiday, Lu said work shifts were determined as usual, but pay rates will not be changed before the two parties reach an agreement.

The requests to take leave during the holiday period will be reviewed based on "actual manpower needs," the official added, indicating that "uncooperative" workers may be punished for their no-show, which he claimed was aimed at "disrupting passenger transportation."

Union members began their "legal leave" no-show on Jan. 27, causing a temporary shortfall in manpower, but the TRA still transported 506,342 passengers that day, Chinese New Year's eve.

The TRA issued a statement the following morning saying that workers who took leave without permission will be disciplined, while commending those who chose to work.

From Jan. 27-29, the busiest time of year for traffic, TRA transported a total of 19.05 million passengers, an indication that the union members' work stoppage failed to disrupt passenger transportation, according to Hsu.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel