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Victims of factory closures mark anniversary
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-02-05 05:48 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – More than a hundred victims of factory closures marked the anniversary Wednesday of their occupation of the tracks at the Taipei Railway Station by showing up at the station again.

This time, no incidents took place as the activists performed a skit showing a locomotive with President Ma Ying-jeou at the commands rolling over workers and low-income people.

The protesters accused the Ma Administration of taking sides against the underprivileged and of using the judiciary to oppress social movements. They sang protest anthems and handed out leaflets to passengers and passersby.

At the origin of the protest was the Council of Labor Affairs’ attitude toward past financial support. A group of workers laid off from four companies 16 years ago applied for COA loans to help them start a new career. However, the COA sent them letters in 2012 demanding they pay back the loans with interests and fines.

When the government department came up with a solution early last year dividing the unemployed in three categories, including a complete compensation for the loans, one group expressed dissatisfaction and moved to the railway station for a protest on February 5.

They occupied a platform inside the station and jumped down on the tracks during the evening, preventing trains from entering the station at that platform.

The COA said the layoff victims would be allowed to file for 30 percent, 60 percent or 90 percent compensation with the possibility of an extra 10 percent. A special taskforce would be entrusted with the decision who would belong in which group, the COA said.

Wednesday’s protesters said the government unit had never changed its attitude but was continuing to pressure the laid-off workers to repay the money.

The protest was also joined by anti-nuclear activists, recently dismissed highway toll workers and opponents of windmills in Yuanli, Miaoli County.

Together, they held a ceremony symbolizing that the first working day of the Lunar New Year of the Horse would also be the beginning of a year full of social activism.

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