Monday, June 23, 2014

Prevent National Highway System Toll Collectors from Copying the Sunflower Student

Prevent National Highway System Toll Collectors from Copying the Sunflower Student Movement
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
June 23, 2014

Summary: Government resources must be used on the majority. Giving toll collectors government jobs is infeasible. The only solution is to pressure Far Eastern to demonstrate greater sincerity, offer a better solutions, and fulfill its promise to find jobs. Far Eastern created a problem. It has no right to expect the public to bear its burden.

Full Text Below:

The Sunflower Student Movement joined with other social movements and left a significant impact on Taiwan society. Now National Highway System toll collectors are copying their tactics. Premier Jiang Yi-hua must treat this matter seriously. Far Eastern Electronic Toll Collection Co. (FETC) failed to reassign employees according to the terms of its contract. Jiang is demanding that the company fulfill its commitments by June 30. Otherwise the Ministry of Transportation will impose harsh penalties. Strict adherence to the law is of course necessary. But it will not solve the problem. The prospects are not bright.

The National Highway System toll collectors' struggle poses a problem, for a number of reasons. The year 2005 was key. The Ministry of Transportation and Communications signed a contract with Far Eastern which included five guarantees. These guarantees included job guarantees, salary guarantees, social benefits, workplace protection, and compensation in the event of reassignment. Problems have arisen with the first guarantee, which promised toll collectors five years of job security beginning with the date of their transfer. Alas, the guarantee was not worded clearly enough. It left too much room for interpretation. As a result, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, Far Eastern, and toll collectors are now talking past each other.

What did the job guarantee guarantee? Two interpretations are possible, One. The "job/no job" dichotomy favored employers. Suppose "job" is defined as giving toll collectors any old job? Suppose it is interpreted as fullfilment of the terms of the contract? Second, what sort of job was provided? The job might be good or bad. It is not enough to provide the toll collectors with any old job. They must be provided with jobs that are satisfactory.

These two conflicting interpretations have led to endless bickering.

From the perspective of the toll collectors, a government job is the ideal. But from a legal and logical perspective, such expectations are unrealistic. Toll collectors are hired by the government for one year terms on a one time basis. The employment contract clearly terminates their employment once ETC has calculated the milage and collected the tolls. Upon termination toll collectors must seek employment on their own. The government made this clear way back in 2006. Therefore, the government has no obligation to reassign them The toll collectors' demand that the government provide them with government jobs has no basis.

The ROC trumpets itself a democracy with the rule of law. But emotions invariably trump reason and the law. The primary appeal of the recent protests has been emotional. The toll collectors have made two appeals to emotion. One involves the social climate. The other involves subjective interpretations by individuals.

People on Taiwan are extremely sympathic toward the disadvantaged. This is why some say "The most beautiful scenery on Taiwan is its people." Toll collector unemployment can easily inspire compassion and concern for the disadvantaged. It can lend the protests "emotional legitimacy." Job guarantees are abstract. Guarantees must take into account the quality of the jobs offered, not merely whether a job was offered. This is also the source of individual "emotional legitimacy." If the job provided was unsatisfactory, the job guarantees have not been fulfilled. Far Eastern broke its promises regarding job guarantees. That and "emotional legitimacy" give toll collectors leverage. Guarantees of government jobs were neither reasonable nor legal. When sympathy for the protests increase, toll collectors who accepted severance payments will regret their action. They will join the struggle, increasing its momentum.

Job guarantees must include job quality. The issue of quality can be blown out of proportion, This is why we believe Premier Jiang's declaration might be the sole solution. It may not meet the expectations of toll collectors. But toll collectors must not be blamed. The Ministry of Transportation and Communications foolishly to accepted an infinitely elastic guarantee. In 2006 government heads and officials left behind a mess. It is hard to defend the government's position. Government jobs are not consistent with reason or the law. It is tantamount to a government declaration regarding temporary staff in similar circumstances. It is tantamount to providing long-term job security. It would not only undermine the government's employment system, it would also jeopardize the government's fiscal situation.

Far Eastern's troubles are evident from its response to outsiders. "Fifty-four reassigned toll collectors have been totally non-responsive. Sixty-seven toll collectors have submitted written requests for government jobs. Far Eastern has asked toll collectors to actively participate in the search for acceptable jobs. By late June, Far Eastern will clarify the job reassignments with the Highway Bureau." In other words, some toll collectors have never even contacted Far Eastern regarding job reassignments. How, therefore can this be considered Far Eastern's responsibility? But Far Eastern hardly merits pity. Its interpretations were too ambiguous and too elastic. Far Eastern was responsible for creating the problems related to job security, no one else. .

Toll collectors are petitioning and protesting. They spent the night camped out in front of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications. They occuped the intersection. The public is not surprised by these esclating actions. Not long ago, factory worker protests ended. They too escalated, step by step. The intense struggle lasted 18 years. The government, unemployed factory workers, and the community as a whole have paid a terrible price. The government cannot allow the toll collectors protests to become a factory workers style prairie fire. It must approach the problem with greater sincerity, wisdom, and empathy.

Government resources must be used on the majority. Giving toll collectors government jobs is infeasible. The only solution is to pressure Far Eastern to demonstrate greater sincerity, offer a better solutions, and fulfill its promise to find jobs. Far Eastern created a problem. It has no right to expect the public to bear its burden.

2014年06月23日 04:10

太 陽花學運與社運合流,曾經造成台灣社會重大衝擊,又見國道收費員依社運模式逐漸升高抗爭,行政院長江宜樺不敢掉以輕心,以遠通公司未依約完成安置為理由, 要求該公司必須在6月30日前完成應有的承諾,否則交通部應按約從嚴裁罰。依法嚴罰可能是的唯一解方,但能不能解決問題,卻不容樂觀。

國 道收費員抗爭之結難解,有很多原因,重要的因素是2005年,與交通部簽署合約的遠通公司,提出的5個保證。包括工作權保障、薪資保障、福利保障、工作地 點保障及轉職補償。問題出在第一項保證:保障收費員轉職之日起5年內的工作權。這項保證不夠明確,解釋彈性過大,留下交通部、遠通公司與收費員三方各說各 話的空間。



從 收費員角度,「國家安置」是收費員最希望達成的目標。但從法從理來看,這項訴求很難成立,因為,收費員是屬政府一年一僱之僱用人員,僱用契約中並已明訂 ETC計程收費後即終止僱用,其終止僱用即應自行覓職,這一訊息,早在2006年政府即已告知,因此,政府並無安置義務,收費員要求國家安置在法與理層面 欠缺正當性。


台 灣對弱勢高度同情,這也是台灣被形容為「最美風景是人」的原因,收費員失業無依的處境,很容易引發社會對弱勢者的同情與關注,也就能號召出抗爭的「情感正 當性」。再則,「保障工作權」的抽象性,讓收費員們從工作品質,而非工作有無的角度解讀「保障」之意,也可以由此找到個人感受的「情感正當性」:我只要不 滿意遠通提供的工作,安置無法完成,遠通就等於違背保障的承諾。這兩個「情感正當性」的基礎,形成一個槓桿,去支撐原本於法於理都不具正當性的「國家安 置」訴求。當抗爭受到的同情增加,更讓原本已領取「離職補償金」的收費員反悔,加入抗爭行伍,增加了抗爭的能量。

若進入「好壞」的品質論 去看保障工作權的定義,品質是可以無限上綱的,這是為什麼,我們認為江揆的宣示可能是唯一解方,但恐怕還是不能滿足收費員們的期待。但這不能怨怪收費員, 誰叫當時的交通部,會愚蠢的接受遠通這種充滿「解讀彈性」的保證。2006年負責業務的首長、官員,才是留下這個爛攤子的源頭。站在政府立場也有難處,國 家安置不僅於法於理不合,此例一開,不啻宣示以後國家對類似的政府臨時人員,也要負擔長期的工作保障,這不僅破壞政府用人體制,也將危及國家的財政。

至 於遠通的煩惱,由遠通對外的回應即可看出端倪:「有54名收費員轉置作業以來完全沒有回應,67人書面表達希望國家安置,呼籲收費員主動參與工作媒合,6 月底將與高公局釐清轉置責任認定。」意思是,有些收費員從頭到尾不和遠通溝通轉置,這責任能算給遠通嗎?然而,遠通公司是最不值得同情的。因為,當出做出 這種曖昧、解讀彈性過大,致令今天問題叢生的保障,不是別人,就是遠通自己。

收費員陳情抗議、夜宿交通部、占據交流道,這些不斷升高行 動,社會並不陌生,不久前才落幕的關廠工人抗爭,也是這麼一步步升高行動強度,激烈抗爭了18年,讓政府、關廠工人與整體社會都付出極大的代價。政府不能 讓收費員抗議之火,成為關廠工人燎原式抗爭的歷史複製,必須以更大的誠意、智慧與同理心來處理。


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