Chunghwa union threatens strike to support chairman

The China Post, 4 January 2003

Chunghwa Telecom’s labor union has threatened a strike in support of the state-run company’s chairman if the government replaces him.

Leaders of the union staged a demonstration in front the company headquarters in Taipei, unfurling banners in protest of an alleged government plan to replace chairman Mao Chi-kuo.

Telecommunications is a high-tech business that has no place for a layman leader, said union head Chen Hsing-chu, accusing the government of trying to bring in a replacement that would know nothing about the trade.

Mao, who took charge of the company after stepping down as vice transport minister, was able to generate profits for the state-run firm in the face of fierce challenges from private competitors, the union leader said.

The company registered an NT$5 pre-tax profit per share for the first 11 months of last year, and the union has faith in Mao’s leadership, Chen said. Chunghwa Telecom closed at NT$51 yesterday.

If the government really replaces Mao, the union will stage a strike in protest, said Chen, adding that most of the rumored candidates are from the banking industry.

But Transportation and Communications Minister Lin Ling-san denied there was any government plan to replace Mao, lauding the chairman as serious and responsible.

Lin stressed that he only knew about the rumors from the newspaper, and that top government leaders never told him to shop for a new chairman for Chunghwa Telecom.

But he said that the company does not necessarily need a telecommunications expert to lead it, pointing out that Mao was not in the business before taking the job.

Observers said Mao may lose his job because of his party affiliation. He is a member of the Kuomintang.

Possible successors include Tsai Tui, an incumbent vice transport minister. He was a KMT member, but when the party launched a party membership re-registration campaign as a pledge of loyalty last year, he did not respond.

His experience as a former chief engineer of the transport ministry’s Directorate General of Telecommunications is a plus.