By Matthew Strong
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Former toll collectors who occupied a freeway in a protest against job losses will not be charged, the Taoyuan District Prosecutors Office announced Tuesday.
A total of 106 protesters will not be indicted even though they mobilized more than 100 vehicles for a freeway protest last October, reports said. Prosecutors argued that they did not pose a threat to public order because two lanes were still open to other traffic and because police were well in charge of the situation.
The former toll collectors have been conducting protests for years now against the level of their severance pay and against the failure of the authorities to help them find new jobs. Manual toll collection was replaced by an electronic system managed by an arm of the Far Eastern Group.
In the protest last October 25, the activists gathered at the Chungli service station on the Sun Yat-sen Freeway before a drive to the Ministry of Transportation in Taipei City. They stopped on the freeway, with some protesters walking out and kneeling once after every six steps. Police picked them up and referred them to prosecutors for posing a threat to public safety.
The protesters were also fined a total of NT$636,000 (US$19,500). They launched a fundraising action which succeeded in collecting enough money to pay, but they also launched legal action against the fines which is currently still under review by the Taoyuan District Court, reports said.