TAIWAN: Ex-Hualon workers clash with police at Taipei rally

Sunday 12 October 2014

Date: 10 October 2014

Type: News

Source: Taipei Times

Keywords: Workers

More than 100 people from the Hualon Self-Help Organization yesterday staged a surprise demonstration outside the Presidential Office and clashed with police as they demanded a meeting with President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).

As Ma declined to see them, the demonstrators were evicted by the police, with two activists arrested.

“We spent our youth at Hualon. Give back our hard-earned money,” the demonstrators shouted as they blocked the entrance to the Presidential Office complex yesterday, holding black umbrellas bearing the number “28” painted in yellow.

Amid preparations for Double Ten National Day celebrations at and near the Presidential Office, the demonstrators appeared and marched toward the complex. Although officers tried to stop them about two blocks away, the protesters, who outnumbered the guards, forced their way through.

Three demonstrators — the group’s vice president, Lee Jui-yun (李瑞雲), and two student activists, Ku Chen-hui (古振輝) and Huang Yung-chiao (黃永喬) — were arrested and temporarily detained.

The demonstrators blocked an entrance to the Presidential Office, where they were surrounded by several rows of secret service agents and police officers. They said they would stage a sit-in until Ma agreed to see them.

“It has been three years since we started our campaign. Government officials have repeatedly promised to help us solve the problem, but I don’t know how long we still have to wait for a solution,” group president Lee Tsuei-ming (李翠明) told the crowd. “We are not asking for anything extra. We are only asking for what we are entitled to.”

About 300 to 400 former Hualon Group employees are owed retirement payouts of about NT$1 million (US$33,000) each, since their employer failed to make monthly deposits to their retirement account as required by law, leaving them with nothing when the company declared bankruptcy.

In August, the final piece of real estate belonging to Hualon Group, a factory in Dayuan Township (大園), Taoyuan County, was sold through a court auction for NT$2.4 billion. However, the workers only received a little more than NT$2,000, as most of the money went to pay banks and other creditors.

The demonstrators called for a revision of Article 28 of the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法), to give employees priority in the distribution of money when a company declares bankruptcy, hence the number “28” on the umbrellas.

A 60-year-old woman surnamed Yang (楊) said that she is owed NT$1.1 million in retirement pay.

“My husband passed away 20 years ago and our family is suffering economically, especially now that I’m old and ill,” she said. “I would not be out on the street protesting if we did not really need the money to survive.”###

See online : Taipei Times

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