Chunghwa Telecom union planning strike meeting

By Joy Su, Taipei Times, Thursday 15 April 2004, Page 2

The group wants to hold a general member meeting on May 2 to get authorization for potentially calling a strike.

Ketagalan Boulevard has been the scene of numerous political demonstrations in recent weeks—and yesterday the president of the Chunghwa Telecom Workers’ Union announced plans to hold a large-scale general membership meeting there on May 2 to discuss whether to strike.

This will be the first time in 47 years that the union has held this sort of full-scale meeting, Chang Hsu-chung told the Taipei Times.

Negotiations with the company’s management have not gotten us anywhere. This is really our last resort, Chang said.

During the general members’ meeting, the union will conduct a vote on whether or not to hold a strike in the future. The union is only authorized to initiate a strike if two-thirds, or about 14,000, of its members vote in favor.

Roughly 70 percent of the 20,300 strong union, would be participating in the meeting, Chang said.

According to Chang, once the union obtains members’ approval for a strike, it would call a strike when the percentage of Chunghwa Telecom stock owned by the government falls under 50 percent.

The union’s grievances stem from the company’s privatization policies, and as such, the union seeks guarantees that employment conditions be announced six months prior to privatization. In addition, the union wants pensions and salaries to remain unchanged after privatization.

Chunghwa Telecom chairman Hochen Tan (賀陳旦) said yesterday that the time is not right for a general meeting. He said the management would soon be offering special stock options to employees.

However, the union might not be able to meet in front of the Presidential Office -- at least before May 20.

Yu Yi-hsien (余一縣), deputy director of the Taipei City Police Department’s Chungcheng First Precinct, said the union would have to get a permit for road use from the maintenance office of the Taipei City Government’s Public Works Department before the precinct could authorize the meeting.

He added that permits would be difficult to obtain as Taipei City Councilor Hsu Chia-ching (徐佳青), a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) member, has already booked the area for every weekend from now until the presidential inauguration on May 20.

Yu said the union had not yet applied for a permit.

Meanwhile, in response to complaints about ADSL fees lodged by students during a meeting with President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) earlier this week, Chunghwa Telecom is planning on offering a new ADSL economy package next month.

The package will provide subscribers with 256K of online service for NT$699 per month. Low income people who provide documentation of their financial status will be able to purchase the package for NT$399 per month.