Workers of bankrupt Chunghwa Picture Tubes rally at parent company

Taipei-Nearly 700 people who worked for flat panel supplier Chunghwa Picture Tubes Ltd. (CPT) before it declared bankruptcy in September protested outside CPT's parent company Friday, demanding back pay owed to them.

The protesters, led by Su Kuo-che (???), head of the CPT Trade Union, and Taoyuan County Central Union president Lee Chao-chang (???), appealed to conglomerate Tatung Co. for payment of back wages, severance pay and retirement pensions owed them by Taoyuan-based CPT.

Tatung was CPT's largest shareholder with about a 40 percent stake.

Outside of Tatung headquarters, the protesters ran into security guards while trying to enter the building to talk to company executives, after two Tatung executives showed up to receive a written petition but left without making any comment.

As scuffles were about to break out, Lee stopped the protesters from advancing and called for everybody to calm down while asking the company to let some protesters in to use the bathroom.

Tatung eventually agreed to the request and also agreed to having Su discuss the protesters' appeals with company executives.

Labor union sources said, however, that no progress was made because Tatung insists that as a shareholder, it is a creditor of the troubled company, and it should be CPT itself that must meet its financial obligations to the workers.

Tatung has expressed hope that the failed company will make the requested payments with the proceeds gained from selling its factory facility and land, the sources said.

CPT filed for bankruptcy in September after determining that the company's assets were not adequate to pay off its debts at a time when some of its land, factories and equipment were already impounded at the request of some of its creditors.

As of June, CPT had assets totaling NT$23.54 billion (US$771.34 million) and long-term and short-term debts amounting to NT$39.31 billion.

The company was delisted from the Taiwan Stock Exchange in May.

In late August, the debt-ridden company announced it would lay off all 2,100 of its employees working on its 6th-generation screen production lines.

That came after it laid off 2,500 employees, including migrant workers, at its 4th-generation production lines in March.

In the latest layoffs, which took effect by the end of October, many employees did not receive paychecks for work done from August to October, and as a result have had trouble making ends meet in their daily lives, according to the CPT Trade Union.

Their only hope is to wait for CPT to sell its assets and fulfill its obligations from the proceeds, the organization said, but because that could be a long, drawn-out process, the union decided to ask Tatung to intervene and address the problem created by its subsidiary.

In response, Tatung said in a statement that it has been asked by the Ministry of Labor and the Taoyuan City government to pay CPT's bills and then get reimbursed over time, but as a listed company it is required by law to safeguard its shareholders' rights and interests.

Any proposal to give a loan must be approved by the company's board of directors and meet the requirement that a loan can only be made to an operating company, which CPT is not, Tatung said.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel