June 20, 2021

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Taiwan: Education union denounces government for allowing profiteering by retirees

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The National Teachers Association (NTA) insists that reemployment rights of public retirees in Taiwan should be respected but their right to a full pension should be limited.

The NTA has criticised the government for allowing retirees from the public sector to receive a full income and a full pension – effectively a double income – in new roles as political advisers. This is a misinterpretation of legislation that has led to profiteering in the education system rather than prioritising the public interest, according to NTA deputy general secretary Chang Hsu-Chen. 

Double-income “fat cats”

He claimed that public education retirees are taking on top-rank managerial positions in order to secure higher incomes and maintain political influence rather than to contribute based on their professional experience. 

While NTA does not question their employment, the education union argues that that their actual performance does not explain such high salaries, while enjoying full pensions supported by taxpayers, Chang Hsu-Chen noted. “We call them ‘double-income fat cats’,” he added.

Role in helping private schools

He insisted that these profiteers represent a top-tier club in the wealth pyramid. This widens the social gap, he added. These profiteers “use their expertise on governmental processes and personal connections to act as caretakers helping private schools to obtain high scores at school assessments required for being granted more public subsidies in an easier and more efficient way”. 

Some of them also accept top manager or paid consultant positions in state-owned enterprises right after retirement, which are considered as political rewards, Chang Hsu-Chen underlined.

He regretted the fact that such retirees, in taking up influential positions, hamper the career prospects of hard-working young professionals who deserve to climb the career ladder. This has increased discontent among the public, Chang Hsu-Chen said.

Government misapplies the Constitutional Court’s interpretation

The NTA leader stressed how this issue was addressed in 2019 when the Constitutional Court announced its interpretation of the Public Servant and Military Personnel Pension Reform Bill. The court stated that, “if the legislators, in an attempt to secure more jobs for the young generation, as well as to facilitate the reemployment of public retirees of middle and high ages, propose such a bill to suspend ‘overall’ pension payment once the latter take positions in private schools or institutions, it might violate the principle of proportionality”.

According to Chang Hsu-Chen, the government understood the interpretation to mean that there should be no discrimination against these re-employed public retirees, and therefore hired retirees should be given full salaries, including those in public-funded institutions, as well as enjoying the right to full pension payment in parallel. “Obviously, the interpretation has been distorted for political manipulation purpose,” Chang Hsu-Chen said.

Social justice 

He went on to point out that the original legislators’ bill proposed that those whose reemployment payment was higher than the national living wage should see their entire pension suspended. 

The Government’s implementation of the bill therefore demonstrates political strategy rather than determination to fulfil social justice, Chang Hsu-Chen said. 

Reasserting that “NTA was founded on solid values of social justice and fair labour rights”, he said that “by weakening the unfair double high-income incentives, the employment market dynamics could remain competitive and prevent further forms of political rewards in the education system”.

NTA: Sustainable and feasible Public Retirees’ Pension Reform Scheme needed

He also insisted that, ever since participating in the negotiations on the Public Retirees’ Pension Reform Scheme with the government, NTA has consistently demanded that the scheme’s sustainability and feasibility be checked. 

In accordance with the Constitutional Court’s interpretation, NTA insists that reemployment rights of public retirees should be respected but their right to a full pension should be limited, the NTA leader concluded.

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