Ex-toll collectors protest for jobs, financial assistance

About a hundred laid-off toll collectors began a week of protest actions the evening of June 8 outside the entrance to the Ministry of Transportation and Communications. The out-of-work protesters are demanding that FETC set aside NT$570 million as a relief fund to support them until they are able to land steady jobs. On Monday they took their complaints to the Control Yuan, asking for its assistance in pressuring the MOTC and the National Freeway Bureau (NFB) to ensure that their rights as workers are upheld. Some of the protesters have said that if their demands are not met they may consider interfering with traffic on a national highway to draw attention to their plight.

In response, Transport Minister Yeh Kuang-shih said that the guarantee fund is called for in the toll collectors’ work contract and noted that FETC should act in accordance with the stipulation. He urged the toll collectors to have patience and have faith that FETC will honor their rights as workers. At the same time, Yeh also called for more than a hundred ex toll collectors who have yet to participate in job-matching events arranged by FETC to check out available positions to see if they are suitable for any of them.

A spokesperson for FETC added that the company will arrange for monthly payments to the NFB, which will in turn pass it on to the laid-off workers.

The Self-help Association for Highway Toll Collectors says that of 771 workers who were laid off, 581 have yet to find suitable jobs. The workers originally hoped that the government would help them find positions, but now they are saying that FETC should provide NT$581 million based on their salaries as toll collectors to set up a “Toll Collectors Job Assurance Fund” and help cover their expenses until they can find suitable work.

An NFB spokesperson added that the bureau will ask FETC to offer more work opportunities to the laid-off toll collectors and to provide funds to assist them until they are able to find work. FETC says that it has already arranged 50 jobs with contractors in the Freeway Bureau service areas. The company also revealed that in its latest job match event on June 5, a total of 17 ex-toll collectors showed up. Ten of the 17 landed jobs as a result of the event, while of the remaining seven there were four who were not interested in the jobs on offer while two were found to be unsuited for the available positions and the remaining one person was unable to land a job because other job seekers were better suited for the position.

Lawyer Chen Po-chou, the convener of the Toll Collectors Self-help Association, said that the NFB’s position is that if the out-of-work toll collectors do not participate in the job match events organized by FETC, this should be seen as abandoning their rights to jobs and to support payments. high public office to help far-advocates say, do not go away through toll matchmaking job interview as a waiver, "breach of contract dispute have not yet begun, and that they first surrender, this must be a problem, "there is no contract, said the interview would not be deemed a waiver.

Ma Yi-kung of the Control Yuan told the ex-toll collectors Monday, “Today I am listening to the voice of the people,” adding that several members of the Control Yuan are already looking into matters related to the workers’ situation.