Protesters disrupt transportation forum
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-07-18 04:30 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Students protesting against the treatment of dismissed toll collectors disrupted a meeting attended by Transportation Minister Yeh Kuang-shih Friday.

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. Almost 1,000 former toll collectors want the government to find new jobs for them.

Yeh attended a transportation forum at a National Taiwan University building Friday morning when about 50 former toll collectors and their supporters turned up on the street outside.

Two male and two female students and labor activists managed to enter the building and descended into the basement where registration for the forum had started, reports said. They scuffled with police as they called on the minister to come out and meet the protesters.

Outside, the laid-off toll collectors called on Yeh to heed his June 24 promise to set up a mediation committee between employers and labor, and to open negotiations immediately.

The minister’s promise followed the occupation of part of a freeway in Linkou, New Taipei City, on June 13.

Protesters accused Yeh of completely ignoring workers’ demands and letting his ministry’s departments control the formation of the committee.

Speaking after the protest, the minister denied having promised a mediation committee, though his ministry would form a group to help the toll collectors find new jobs.

Protest leaders threatened to paralyze major roads on November 22, one week before nationwide local and regional elections, if Yeh did not come up with a solution to their problems, reports said.

After the earlier wave of protests, Yeh reportedly said 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.

However, Yeh rejected the protesters’ claim that his ministry bore the responsibility to give the laid-off toll collectors government jobs. Their annual contracts clearly stated that their functions would be abolished once electronic toll collection was introduced, Yeh said. The workers were contract employees, not civil servants, according to the ministry.

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