The National Federation of Teachers Unions (NFTU) yesterday mobilized tens of thousands of teachers nationwide to take part in a rally against what they said was a “disastrous pension reform plan” by President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration.
Several representatives from the Taiwan International Workers Association, the Labor Rights Association, the National Federation of Independent Trade Unions and the Taiwan Higher Education Union joined the rally, which took place between 3pm and 5pm on Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the President Office in Taipei.
Wearing head bands and signs that read: “Bring down the disastrous reform plan,” more than 30,000 teachers from different levels of education and from various parts of the nation jointly voiced their anger over the pension reform plan.
“The Ma administration has turned a blind eye to the many flaws in its pension reform plan and turned a deaf ear to the heart-felt advice given by the NFTU and other workers’ unions. Its goal is not to improve the pension system, but to protect its own people from getting hurt in the process,” the NFTU said in a press release issued before the protest.
“The administration has managed to put forward a reform plan that runs counter to the theory of social insurance, violates the principle of intergenerational equity, excuses the government from its responsibility and is set to worsen social divisions,” the press release said.
NFTU director-general Liu Chin-hsu (劉欽旭) said that while the federation was in favor of pension reforms, the scheme proposed by the Ma administration was merely an unjust and “pseudo-reform” that favored high-ranking government officials.
“The pension reform policy has become nothing but a scam. It has sought to look after the interests of people in the higher echelons of the ruling class by sacrificing those of grassroots employees,” Liu said.
Saying that the reform plan was not the only government policy “bullying” educators, Liu said that the Cabinet’s draft amendment to the Teacher’s Act (教師法) could also leave teachers vulnerable.
“The amendment proposes bringing what it said are ‘disinterested social members’ into schools’ faculty evaluation committees, while slashing the number of seats on the committees for teachers. In the end, school principals and parents would be the ones having the ultimate power to decide the fate of teachers,” Liu said.
Among the protesters were Changhua Senior High School teacher Pai Hung-pin (白宏彬), 46, and his wife, National Changhua Girls’ Senior High School teacher Ku Hsiang-chin (谷湘琴).
“My wife and I chose to study at National Taiwan Normal University over National Taiwan University not only because we love teaching, but also because we thought the government would ensure the stability of our jobs and our well-being,” Pai said.
“Who would have thought that we would be here protesting against the Ma administration’s ridiculous pension reform plan two decades later?” Pai said.
National Hualien Girls’ Senior High School teacher Hung Lung-chiu (洪龍秋) said he had been devoted to teaching and put his faith in the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), only to be disappointed by the Ma administration’s political maneuvering under the guise of reforms.