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September 27, 2017

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Next TV Labor Union protest against ERA's failure to meet its promises

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Next TV Labor Union (壹電視工會) and many of its supporters gathered in front of the Ministry of Transportation and Communication (MOTC) yesterday, protesting that ERA Communications Inc. (ERA) did not fulfill the promises it made last year before acquiring Next TV. The group also demanded that the National Communication Commission (NCC) investigate the issue.

In response, the NCC stated that the new management team should accede to the labor union's requests. If not, the NCC will continue to ask and supervise the ERA until it fulfills all its promises.

ERA acquired Next TV last year, igniting a huge debate among the public. Although some expressed their concern that Next TV might lose its independence with the merger, Lien Tai-sheng (練台生), the chairman of ERA, made six promises, including organizing a television ethics committee, hiring more employees, separating the management between the two media outlets, safeguarding the independence of Next TV, and other conditions to ease opposition.

However, according to the labor union, ERA has failed to keep its promises. Some reporters were ordered to report for two different stations. Sometimes they were even requested to do live reports for both stations at the same time. In addition, protesters stated that rather than hiring more staff, ERA cut down the number of reporters.

With banners that say "reporters sweat under a boss without a conscience," the labor union claims that ERA has violated the Labor Union Act and Labor Standards Act. The protesters demand that the NCC start investigating this case in three weeks and hope that it will remove ERA's permit of operation if ERA fails to meet requirements.

In addition, the Labor Union also said that it has the right to strike and could go on strike at anytime.

NCC's Response

After the protest in the morning, the NCC published a press release, saying that the new management did not refuse to fulfill the promises it made a year ago. The NCC will continue to follow the case to see if ERA continues to satisfy its obligations in the future. The processes for fulfilling these obligations will also be listed as key items in an annual evaluation of ERA, according to the NCC.

The NCC also said that ERA should respond to the protest positively since it is labors' right to protest legally in this way. In addition, the two sides should continue communicating about this issue until final decisions are made and accepted by both parties.

In addition, the NCC stated that the requests of the labor union are reasonable, not only for the staff but also for all workers in a similar situation. Therefore, ERA should continue to fulfill its promises.

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