Fri, Nov 21, 2003 - Page 4 News List

Chen urges the public to give disabled more work

EQUAL OPPORTUNITY The president said that people with handicaps were no less valued members of society and that their right to work ought to be upheld

By Cody Yiu  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday asked the public to provide mentally and physically disabled people with equal employment opportunities.

"Those who are mentally and physically disadvantaged are often identified as needy and helpless, and thus they face many challenges when seeking employment," Chen said at a Council of Labor Affairs award ceremony for enterprises that employ the disabled.

"However, this is the wrong way to think about this group of outstanding individuals who, after training, are able to perform many basic tasks; all they need is a fair opportunity," Chen said.

Chen said the government has always been concerned with the labor rights of the disabled.

"With the first amendment to the Welfare Regulations for the Mentally and Physically Disadvantaged (殘障福利法) in 1980, an employment quota was added to the regulation in order to protect the work rights of the mentally and physically disadvantaged," Chen said.

In 1990, the Cabinet established the Rights for the Mentally and Physically Disadvantaged Committee to offer career advice and counseling services to those who need it, Chen said.

"Government regulations provide that employment, education, medical care and welfare rights of the mentally and physically challenged will be taken care of. However, I know these regulations are not enough. The government will work hard to fight for better rights for these people," Chen said.

Having a suitable and stable job is the wish of many mentally and physically disabled people, Chen said, and it is the government's responsibility to come up with a more complete policy.

Nevertheless, the private sector has to play its part, he said.

"With the collaboration of the resources of the private sector and the government, mentally and physically disadvantaged individuals will be able to integrate with society more smoothly," Chen said.

Council of Labor Affairs Chairwoman Chen Chu (陳菊) said that the council has employed 156 people with serious mental or physical disabilities.

"After they have been trained, these individuals are as professional and hardworking as any other employees," she said.

The labor insurance department has hired nine of them to collect insurance fees over the past two-and-a-half years.

"Since they joined our team, the amount of fees we have collected increased by NT$400 million," she said.

She said that a sign of a developed country was the way it treated its underprivileged.

"One day, when our country is a place in which the less fortunate can survive and claim equal rights, I will proudly announce that we are a truly developed country," she said.

More than 100 private and governmental enterprises received awards at the ceremony for implementing equal opportunity policies.

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