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Gov't to return money to all in ex-factory worker case: premier

Gov't to return money to all in ex-factory worker case: premier

Taipei, March 14 (CNA) The government has decided to return money to all factory workers laid off without severance pay in the 1990s and who received government loans, irrespective of whether they had repaid the loans before 2012, when the government filed lawsuits to recoup the loans, Premier Jiang Yi-huah said Friday. "The nation's laws should not hurt law-abiding people," the premier said. He was referring to former workers who lost their jobs without severance or retirement pay when their employers went bust and were given government loans to tide them over their difficulties. Earlier reports had said that 480 former workers who had already paid back their loans prior to 2012 would not get their money back.
Addressing concerns over the issue, the premier said that after deliberations over the past three days, the government has decided to treat all the workers equally. In the case of those workers who were law-abiding and repaid the loans, "we cannot give them different treatment," the premier said.
Labor Minister Pan Shih-wei said the money for reimbursing the loans will come from the Employment Stablization Fund operated by the government.
The Ministry of Labor said March 10 that it will not appeal a March 7 court ruling in favor of 12 former workers that went against the government in its bid to recoup the loans.
The ministry also said that it will drop similar cases against more than 300 other former factory workers, and that the money already repaid will be returned to them. The case dates back to the 1990s, when more than 1,000 factory workers were laid off by their employers without any form of severance or retirement pay.
Many of the workers were not even able to recover the contributions they made to the labor insurance fund because their factories closed down or moved overseas, often without warning.
The government arranged at the time for the workers to receive loans, defined as re-employment assistance, which were issued from a fund established by the government. In an effort to recover the loans, the Council of Labor Affairs -- now the Ministry of Labor -- filed lawsuits in 2012 against the former workers who received the loans but never paid them back.
The move sparked anger among the workers, their supporters and activists, who have staged highly visible protests over the past year. Since April 2013, 200 of the more-than 500 workers targeted by the government had agreed to pay back 10-30 percent of the loans in a settlement initiated by the then-Council of Labor Affairs. Cases involving some 200 former workers were still pending in the administrative court system prior to the Labor Ministry's announcement.
All the cases will now be dropped and all of the workers will either get their money back or will no longer be considered to be in debt to the government. (By Chen Wei-ting, Wen Kuei-hsiang and Lilian Wu)


Updated : 2021-06-24 14:36 GMT+08:00