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Taiwan Railways Administration employees plan to take more holidays off

Union launches campaign against overtime on Dragon Boat Festival, Mid-Autumn Festival, National Day

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File photo of the Taiwan Railway Labor Union protesting Tranportations Minister Wang Kwo-tsai's reluctance to negotiate. 

File photo of the Taiwan Railway Labor Union protesting Tranportations Minister Wang Kwo-tsai's reluctance to negotiate.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) —The Taiwan Railway Labor Union (TRLU) has announced its plan to expand its May 1 “no overtime” campaign to include the Dragon Boat Festival, Mid-Autumn Festival, and National Day holidays.

The campaign was initially launched after Transportation Minister Wang Kwo-tsai (王國材) refused to withdraw a plan to corporatize the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) from the Legislative Yuan. The TRLU was cited by UDN as saying that while it was not against reforms, Wang had submitted the plan for review without reaching an agreement with the union.

Despite the TRLU's disapproval, Wang has not withdrawn his plan for the TRA, and it was scheduled for review by the Legislative Yuan on Tuesday (April 21). In response, the union called an urgent meeting and announced the expansion of the campaign. Union chair Chen Shih-chieh (陳世杰) said that as mistrust grows among TRA employees, only more will join in on the protest, reported ETtoday.

In response to the TRLU’s announcement, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) said that rather than impacting public transportation by frequently running “no overtime” campaigns, the union should communicate about the plan rationally. UDN reported that Wang also wrote a letter to TRA employees stating that corporatization is the only way to go, that he would not give up on any opportunity to discuss matters, and that TRA employees should keep up the spirit of giving.

However, CNA quoted the TRLU’s letter to Wang as saying: “We will no longer be held hostage by your moral coercion. No overtime on May 1 is in fact by no means a strike or destabilizing public transportation. It is merely using our labor rights and requesting not to work overtime, and it's definitely not TRA employees being unwilling to give like you say.”

According to UDN, over 12,000 TRA employees have signed up to join the May 1 action. The TRA has estimated that only 40 or so drivers will work on that day.

Wang wants to transform the TRA, which is currently an agency under his ministry, into a state-run corporation within three years, without cutting any jobs. However, the union has doubts about the handling of TRA debt, salaries, promotions, and pensions, according to an earlier report.