Minister of Education Chiang Wei-ling (蔣偉寧) said yesterday that he would continue to push for a limit to be placed on pensions for retired public school teachers who continue teaching at private schools, a proposal that was recently turned down by the Cabinet.
“We will deal with the issue in a proactive manner,” Chiang said after visiting National Federation of Teachers Unions (NFTU) president Liu Chin-hsu (劉欽旭), who is on a hunger strike.
Chiang played down the proposal that was rejected by the Cabinet on April 25.
“It is not that [the Cabinet] denied the proposal. [The Cabinet] wanted to have an equitable principle for retired teachers, military personnel and civil servants. Therefore, there is still a need for further discussion of the issue,” Chiang said.
Chiang had planned to include the proposal in a package of government reforms aimed at improving the nation’s retirement insurance system for military personnel, civil servants and public school teachers, which operates on an increasingly unsustainable system of low contributions and a high replacement rate.
At a Cabinet meeting on April 25, the Cabinet finalized plans to reform the pension system, but excluded a stipulation that would have caused retired public school teachers who teach in private schools to receive only 40 percent of their monthly pension.
The ceiling was set at 40 percent because that would be equivalent to the amount contributed by the teachers themselves, if the pension reform, which is pending legislative approval, is adopted.
The government would contribute the remaining 60 percent.
The Cabinet’s decision was opposed by the NFTU, a nationwide teachers’ union of more than 80,000 teachers in 19 counties and cities, and Liu started a hunger strike on Friday at 10:30am to protest the measure.
“The hunger strike will continue until the government gives a positive response to our demands,” NFTU executive secretary Kuo Shih-tsan (郭石燦) said.
Given that private schools are operated under a franchise arrangement and regularly receive grants from the government, positions in private schools are likely to be much more accessible to teachers affiliated with the public sector than regular citizens, NFTU vice president Wu Chung-tai (吳忠泰) said.
“It’s not difficult to understand why the issue needs to be addressed. Retired public school teachers continue to be hired in private schools and so receive double payment — a monthly retirement payout and a salary from the private school,” Wu said.
According to the NTFU, about 2,500 teachers or staff of private schools are retired government employees, of which, 1,500 come from public schools and 1,000 from defense-related agencies or other government agencies.
The legislature is aware of the problem and has adopted several resolutions since last year demanding that the Executive Yuan address the double payment issue, Wu said.
What the government should do is to push the Ministry of National Defense and the Ministry of Civil Service to follow Chiang’s steps to present proposals applicable to retired military personnel and civil servants, rather than rejecting the proposal, he said.
If the problem could be adequately addressed, it would help people with doctor’s degrees and higher education find more jobs in schools, Kuo said.
The unemployment level for people with a doctorate or post-graduate degree hit a record high of more than 4.5 percent this year.