On Friday, former employees of Hualong Textiles protested in front of the Ministry of Labor, demanding that the Ministry honor its promise 10 days ago to resolve the pension and severance pay that was owed to the workers since as early as 2003, amounting to approximately NT$300 million dollars.
Hualong Textiles is a company based in Miaoli County, and has had operating troubles since the late 1990s. As early as 2003, the company announced it would pay out pensions and severance pays on a delayed schedule, and eventually was not able pay its obligations entirely. In 2012, about 330 former employees formed an organization to seek damages, and had mediated with the Miaoli County government and the then Council on Labor.
Meanwhile, Hualong Textiles faced troubles with creditors as well. Recently, a plant in Taoyuan County was foreclosed to pay money owed to creditors and banks. However, out of the NT$1 million dollars each of the former employees were owed, they received a NT$2,200 payout. On July 28th, members of the former employees, legislators and officials from the Ministry met, during which the Ministry promised to take action within 10 days.
On Friday, the employees camped overnight outside the Ministry of Labor, demanding a response from the Ministry. After receiving no answer nor acknowledgement from the Ministry, the protesters threw eggs at the building and left.
The Ministry later responded saying that it had no legal authority to force Hualong to pay the debt owed to employees, but that it is working on amending the Labor Law to allow for back pay and employees to collect money made from foreclosed assets before creditors and banks in the future.
The Ministry of Labor itself is undergoing other distractions; Minister of Labor Pan Shih-wei (潘世偉) resigned suddenly on July 24, after Taiwan’s tabloid weekly Next Magazine caught Pan visiting his secretary’s apartment at night over several days.