Taipower union demands MOEA chief step down
Ted Chen, The China PostTAIPEI, Taiwan -- Thirty members of the Taiwan Power Labor Union (TPLU, 台電工會) protested yesterday at the Legislative Yuan (立法院), demanding the immediate resignation of the economics minister for asking them to return the year-end bonus they took in advance.
January 5, 2013, 12:06 am TWN
The TPLU accused Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-shiang (施顏祥) of acting in petty self preservation by summarily downgrading Taipower (台電) employees' performance assessment from the grade of “A” to “B,” in an effort to appease the overwhelming public criticism over their generous 4.6 months of wages in year-end bonuses.
In addition, the TPLU indicated that they will spare no measures if their demands are not responded to with good will, and will escalate their protests, including “letting Taiwan go dark.”
TPLU Chairman Hu Guo-kang (胡國康) said that time and again Taipower has endured the blunders and unreasonable demands of unsound government policies. Hu cited the example of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Legislative Yuan's efforts in pushing for the pending program to fully adopt smart grid and smart meter systems (智慧型電網, 電表), in spite of Taipower's advice against its necessity. If implemented, the smart grid systems will cost NT$139 billion, in addition to laying NT$20 billion in yearly costs on Taipower in transmission fees. Also, the switch from manual metering to smart metering will represent an increase in yearly metering fees from NT$30 to NT$1,800 for each household, Hu said.
He added that the Bureau of Energy (能源局) had assigned Taipower to absorb NT$700 million in costs incurred by the LED light bulb upgrade program for three counties. Hu also said that Taipower was ordered to supply industrial power below cost, causing losses in the tens of billions for the company. Hu indicated that all these costs were absorbed by Taipower, were not designated as burdens of policy and were not exempt from performance assessments.
Taipower Department of Labor Director (台電勞資處處長) Hong Ching-fu (洪清福) stated that prior to president Ma's decision to raise the price of electricity, the company had advised an increase to the price of industrial power by NT$0.5 per kilowatt-hour, while lowering the price of household power by NT$0.2 or NT$0.3, which was rejected. Hu expressed great regret in supporting Ma in the election last year, as the president had now made scapegoats out of all Taipower employees.
Incidentally, the protesting TPLU was flanked by KMT lawmakers Chiang Hui-chen (江惠貞) and Wu Yu-ren (吳育仁). Wu indicated support for the exclusion of policy burden from performance assessment while Chiang urged against the privatization of Taipower, adding that they've suffered enough injustices.