A group of middle-aged and senior workers yesterday urged the government to expedite passage of the Unemployment Protection Law and to hold off on a new labor pension plan due to take effect in July.
"According to the Employment Insurance Law (就業保險法), if one loses his job, he can only be on social welfare for up to six months, which is quite a short period of time for some occupations," said The Association for Middle Aged and Senior Employment president Hsiao Chung-han (蕭忠漢). "Therefore, we have drafted a new law to further protect the rights of the unemployed.
Also, the new labor pension will give employers more incentive to get rid of older employers; therefore, we urge the government to postpone the pension plan implementation."
In the draft, the association proposed that the amount and length of unemployment payments could be adjusted to one's demographic attributes, such as age and occupation.
The association organized a 30-person petition near the Presidential Office to urge the president to speak for the unemployed yesterday morning.
"Since Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) is our president as well as the head of the ruling party, we hope that he, on the frontline of our nation, will look out for the needs of the unemployed," Hsiao said.
Hsiao even cited the Constitution to point out the importance of government's responsibility to provide opportunities for those who are out of work.
Article 152 of the Constitution stipulates that the state shall provide suitable opportunities for work to people who are able to work.
"However, sadly, many middle-aged or senior citizens who have lost their jobs have a hard time carrying on with their lives, since unemployment benefits only last for six months," Hsiao said. "Sometimes it's so hard to find a new job that these elderly end up doing odd jobs to get by."
Hsiao also criticized the new labor pension plan due to be implemented in July, saying it is a threat to middle-aged and senior citizens who are currently in the job market. The new plan requires employers to set aside 6 percent of an employee's salary for a pension account for the employee.
"From an employer's perspective, it is a huge financial burden to set aside so much money," Hsiao said. "Of course, it is definitely a reassurance for young employees. However, for the middle-aged or senior employees, it is a threat because their employers might try to get rid of them using whatever tactics so that they don't have to put aside huge amount of money to meet their older workers' retirements."