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Ex-toll collectors' demands are 'impractical': NFB

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The National Freeway Bureau (NFB) yesterday announced that it is impractical for the government to place former freeway toll collectors in civil service positions as they requested.

As for the ex-toll collectors' request to receive severance pay that is higher than regulated amounts, the NFB said that the government cannot make an exception in this case.

Ever since the new electronic freeway toll system was launched in the beginning of this year, many former freeway toll collectors claimed that the Far Eastern Electronic Toll Collection Co. (FETC) did not fulfill its promise to find proper jobs for them.

The ex-toll collectors formed a self-help alliance, demanding that the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) hire them as civil servants and give out more severance pay than the amount regulated by law.

According to the NFB, the bureau has collected opinions from experts in various fields and conclusions suggest that the demands from the ex-toll collectors are impractical.

The NFB said that the freeway toll system has been replaced with an electronic system, so the bureau terminated the toll collectors' labor contracts based on Article 11 of the Labor Standards Act, which states that when a change in the nature of business necessitates the reduction of the workforce, the terminated employees do not have to be reassigned to other suitable positions.

Based on the Act, the NFB said that it does not have an obligation to reassign former toll collectors to other jobs.

The NFB said that regulations forbid government organizations from privately hiring employees, so it would be illegal for the NFB to place former toll collectors in civil servant positions.

Moreover, the NFB said, there is no major project that provides enough full-time positions for the MOTC to be able to hire all ex-toll collectors.

The NFB also said that the MOTC cannot make an exception and give out higher amounts of severance pay than regulated for this case because it does not have the authority to make such a decision.

According to the NFB, based on the contract between the MOTC and the FETC, all former toll collectors who have requested to be reassigned to other positions should be placed in their new jobs by the end of this June by the FETC.

The NFB said that among the 456 ex-toll collectors who wish to be reassigned to new positions by the FETC, 100 of them have started new jobs while over 50 of them were hired but did not report to their new jobs. Over 80 of them quit their new jobs assigned by the FETC.

According to self-help organization members, during the process of looking for jobs through the FETC, FETC employees not only treated the former toll collectors badly but also humiliated them as well.

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