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Toll workers occupy freeway
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-06-13 07:47 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Laid-off toll collectors occupied a major freeway exit for several hours Friday until Transportation Minister Yeh Kuang-shih agreed to meet their representatives later this month.

The government ended manual toll collection earlier this year, replacing the employees with an electronic system managed by the Far Eastern Electronic Toll Collection Co., a company in Douglas Hsu’s Far Eastern Group. Almost 1,000 former toll collectors want the government to find new jobs for them.

During the morning, the protesters tried to intercept Yeh outside a Taipei hotel, but after they reportedly failed to find him, 400 of them traveled by bus to the Sun Yat-sen Freeway and stepped off to occupy the Linkou exit in New Taipei City.

The number of protesters was so large that for one period of time around noon, the exit had to be closed to all traffic, reports said. During the afternoon, National Freeway Bureau Director General Chen Yen-poh took a message from the minister promising he would meet with their representatives before the end of the month. He reportedly told them the government would make an effort to convince FETC to take on all former toll collectors at a wage similar to what they made when working for the ministry.

The move succeeded in persuading the occupiers to leave the freeway, reports said. They apologized to motorists for the inconvenience they had caused and left around 4 p.m.

Yeh said that the government had no responsibility to place the laid-off toll collectors because it had been clearly stated in their annual contracts that their functions would be abolished once electronic toll collection was introduced.

The occupation was the latest in a series of actions which also included a short intrusion into the Ministry of Transportation last month. The protesters rejected the ministry’s claim that there were no vacancies to place the toll collectors, saying that 96 toll stationmasters and their deputies had been found new jobs with several companies and organizations under the ministry. Officials responded that the stationmasters were civil servants, while the collectors were contract workers.

According to statements made during the previous protest, a total of 941 toll collectors faced unemployment, while 456 would have to receive new functions from FETC before the end of June. Of the latter group, only 101 were already working in their new positions, with a further 64 already recruited but not yet having started work.

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