Wed, Jun 28, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Lawmakers clash over teachers’ pension rules

By Sean Lin and Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporters

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Yeh Yi-jin, front center, accompanied by members of the legislature’s Education Committee, speaks at a news conference at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei yesterday detailing proposed changes to rules governing public-school teachers’ and school employees’ retirement and pension benefits.

Photo: Huang Yao-cheng, Taipei Times

Lawmakers yesterday clashed as the legislative caucuses reviewed a draft bill on rules governing public-school teachers’ and school employees’ retirement and pension benefits.

Pan-blue legislators continued to protest against the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) version of the bill, saying that the proposals would make teachers suffer and accused ruling party lawmakers of stigmatizing teachers with propaganda implying they are reluctant to loosen their grip on their pensions.

Teachers should not be made to bear the responsibility of the Civil Servants’ Pension Fund going bankrupt, as the amount of their pensions was set out in a contract they signed with the government, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Yosi Takun (孔文吉) said, calling on the DPP government not to push for punishing pension reform.

The DPP caucus’ version sets the pension floor for public-school teachers and employees at NT$32,160 — the same as the minimum pension for civil servants stipulated in the Act Governing Civil Servants’ Retirement, Discharge and Pensions (公務人員退休資遣撫卹法) that was passed yesterday.

As with civil servants, teachers and employees at public schools taking childcare leave would be able to retain their seniority as long as they agree to pay a monthly fee ranging from 12 to 18 percent of their monthly salary to support the Civil Servants’ Pension Fund in accordance with a DPP draft that passed its second reading on Monday.

The legislators resolved that the rules would apply to principals, presidents, teachers, researchers, specialists and sports coaches who are formal employees at public schools.

Ahead of the plenary session yesterday, the DPP caucus decided to lower the planned retirement age for elementary and high-school teachers by two years to 58.

A legislative proposal made in accordance with the Presidential Office’s pension reform committee recommended that the retirement age for teachers be set at 60, but the DPP decided to set it at 58 following negotiations with the National Federation of Teachers’ Unions. The average retirement age of public-school teachers is 53, and they can qualify for retirement if their age plus years of service equal 75.

The federation has urged the Cabinet and the legislature to keep the retirement age at 55 to ensure quality teaching, but it is willing to accept a two-year decrease in the planned retirement age, federation president Chang Hsu-cheng (張旭政) said.

“Although it is not satisfying, this is progress, which is acceptable for most elementary and high-school teachers,” Chang said.

DPP caucus chief executive Yeh Yi-chin (葉宜津) said the DPP caucus understands the difficulties involved in the elementary and high-school teaching environment, but considering the planned retirement age of 65 for other occupations, the party can only make a concession of two years.

“The compromise is a success, and the DPP is willing to negotiate with people in different lines of work to proceed with pension reform while maintaining the financial stability of the government,” she said.

The review of the proposed bill was still ongoing at press time last night.

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