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Chunghwa Telecom union protests new chairman, last mile opening

Chunghwa Telecom union protests new chairman, last mile opening

The employees union of Chunghwa Telecom mobilized 700 people Wednesday to protest the Ministry of Transportation and Communications’ (MOTC) appointment of Rick Tsai, former head of TSMC’s Solid State and Solar Lighting Operations, as chairman of Chunghwa Telecom to replace outgoing chairman Lee Yen-sung, who retired January 6. The protestors expressed dissatisfaction with the government’s decision to bring in an outsider as well as its plans to open up the ‘last mile’ of broadband communications lines to other companies.

Chunghwa Telecom union president Chuan-ping Chu charged that the Executive Yuan’s choice of Tsai flew in the face of good administration, noting that while the new appointee has extensive management experience, he comes from a non-telecommunications background and would be also set for retirement in just two years according to MOTC regulations. Chu said it makes little sense for Tsai to take over the communications giant, complaining that "he must have a mission for Chunghwa Telecom!"

Chunghwa Telecom employees have complained in private that if Tsai is really such a powerful administrator, the government should send him to a loss-maker like China Petroleum rather than to a cash cow like Chunghwa Telecom.

MOTC Minister Yeh Kuang-shih countered that in advanced European nations you never see employees of a private enterprise out in the streets complaining about the appointment of a new chairman. This phenomenon is unique to Taiwan, he said, adding that while he understood employees’ misgiving, he felt the union should focus on the welfare and interests of employees and not get involved in management issues.

The union also demanded that the ministry cancel its plans to open up the last mile in fixed-line fiber-optic systems to other communications groups. Chu said that in 2000 Chunghwa Telecom invested heavily to construct a fiber-optic network for the island, and no other company bore a share of the cost. Now, said Chu, the ministry wants Chunghwa Telecom to step aside and let others use lines leading from broadband service providers into customers’ offices and residences. Chu said, "Maintenance of the lines is still the responsibility of Chunghwa Telecom, and opening up the last mile will only profit other business groups!"

Chunghwa Telecom has said that the National Communications Commission’s (NCC) plans to require it to share its last mile connection with competitors infringe on the company’s operating rights. Chunghwa Telecom also warned the change will negatively impact broadband competition and threaten national security.

The NCC proposal would require Chunghwa Telecom to share the last mile connections to customers with other operators. Chunghwa Telecom would also be required to charge competitors at cost for using CHT connections to customer premises to deliver their own services.

A notice on the NCC webpage says that the commission will hold a public hearing January 14 to explore a way to resolve the conflict over the last mile and other issues.

Updated : 2021-04-19 14:16 GMT+08:00