State-run companies' workers should share country's woes
The China Post news staffIf you join state-run businesses thinking you have arrived at a haven that provides employment protection, good salaries and handsome benefits, you should think again. You have to rethink why state-run businesses offer such good terms and whether you should take them for granted.
January 11, 2013, 12:01 am TWN
The ongoing row over fat bonuses for the employees of money-losing electricity supplier Taiwan Power Company (Taipower) and oil utility CPC Corp., Taiwan has forced us to rethink the role of state-run businesses and how different they are from private firms.
Union members from the two companies and other state-run firms have been enraged by the latest decision from lawmakers to sharply cut their bonuses, with some from Taipower threatening to go on a strike to “blackout” Taiwan.
The lawmakers' move comes after Premier Sean Chen reluctantly approved full or almost full bonuses for state-run businesses depending on their “performance.” Chen's action came despite widespread calls from the public that these money-losing units do not deserve any bonus at all.
The labor unions argue that they are hard-working people and their companies lose money not because of them. They blame the losses on the firms' duty to implement government policies.
What they are referring to are those government policies requiring them to stabilize prices at the expense of profits. They also have to absorb the energy subsidies given to the private sector by the government.
We do believe that employees at state-run businesses work hard. But working hard may not necessarily mean they deserve bonuses or, more generously, the kind of fat bonuses — 4.6 months of their salaries — they were asking for.
Many of their counterparts in the private sector may work as hard, but receive no or only small bonuses because their companies lose money. This is the logic of private businesses.