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State-firm employees protest cut to bonuses

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Legislative Yuan was in a difficult position when it decided to decrease this year's performance bonuses for state-run company employees, said Legislature Speaker Wang Jin-pyng, who urged state-owned firm workers, amid union protests, to work with the government through the nation's financial difficulties.

Both ruling and opposition party members reached a consensus on Monday to cap performance bonuses for state-owned company employees at a maximum 1.2 months of their salaries. The number previously stood at 2.6 months.

The employees' year-end bonuses are calculated according to their firm's annual performance, which is graded by the government.

Despite immense pressure from unions, the Legislature resolved to decrease the bonuses amid public resentment of what it sees as preferential treatment toward government employees.

In response, union members said state-run companies operate under government policies, and that employees cannot be held fully responsible for policies that lead to company losses.

Cabinet Response

The Executive Yuan said yesterday that it respects and accepts the Legislature's decision, adding, however, that it hopes for a more reasonable and less uniform approach in the future.

Premier Sean Chen said state-run companies come in different forms and their performances should be assessed according to more subtle, firm-specific criteria.

Chen also said the losses incurred by some of the companies were a result of policy objectives.

The Democratic Progressive Party said yesterday that as far as long-term plans go, the relationship between policy-induced losses and the performance of state-run companies should be clearly defined in terms of regulations.

Central Bank Response

Local reports claimed yesterday that on behalf of Central Bank employees, the bank's Governor Perng Fai-nan slammed the Legislature's decision.

The Central Bank, however, released a statement, saying the claim was false. The statement added that Perng met with Wang upon learning of the Legislature's decision and merely expressed a wish for bonuses to be allocated according to the institution's actual operational performance so as to retain talent.

Minister Response

With regard to the protests, Economics Minister Shih Yen-shiang said he will continue to communicate with unions.

Shih also said the Legislature's Economics Committee had reached a resolution on Monday morning which was vastly different from the resolution reached through party negotiations later in the day.

The minister said he was surprised with the outcome, adding, however, that the resolutions of cross-party negotiations are of a higher priority than those of committees.

Shih went on to say that the Legislature's final resolution was closer to the ministry's initial proposal, adding that the only main difference is that the former proposes an earlier date for the changes.

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Union representatives of state-run companies stage a protest at the Legislature, yesterday. (CNA)

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