President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said yesterday that the new labor insurance system fits the spirit of human rights and provides better protection for workers.
"Today is a new millennium for the country. The first day to enforce the new labor insurance system is as important as the first day of carrying out the health insurance system a few years ago," Chen said. "It is a giant step, that moves Taiwan toward becoming a country with more social justice and welfare."
Chen, accompanied by Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), participated in an activity to celebrate the launch of the new labor insurance system yesterday afternoon.
The president said that the government is obligated to take care of its people, and that the new labor insurance system will allow the government to achieve that goal.
"Workers are a treasured part of Taiwan. And we shall cherish our treasure with all our hearts," Chen said.
Under the old labor insurance system, an employee was not qualified to receive a pension unless he or she was 55 years old and had been working for the same employer for more than 15 years, or was under the age of 55 and had worked for the same employer for more than 25 years.
"This kind of strict requirement is extremely unreasonable. Ninety percent of our hard-working employees will not be able to receive their pension after they have devoted themselves to their work for most of their life," the president said. "For me, this is not only unreasonable, but also a humiliation in a country where human rights are highlighted."
According to the president, the idea of amending the labor insurance system began 14 years ago. However, it didn't become an official proposal until August 2001. When it was eventually proposed and submitted to the legislature, it took another three years for it to become a law.
"As you can see, it has been a long process and has required a lot of work. But anyway, I am glad we have made it," Chen said.
Hsieh said that the new labor insurance system fulfills one of the promises Chen made during his presidential campaign.
"While the establishment of the new system was being fleshed out, we had three different premiers," Hsieh said. "Although it has been very arduous, eventually we made it."
Over the next five years, employees will be allowed to switch to the new system or stay with the old one and change over later.
According to the new rules, the employer must pay the equivalent of six percent of the employee's monthly paycheck, and that six percent must not be deducted from the employee's monthly salary.
When employees change jobs, the pension plan will accompany them and payments will continue being deposited by the new employer.
When employees are 65 years old, they will be authorized to receive the pension regardless of whether they have been constantly working or have chosen to retire earlier. But the longer an employee works, the more pension will be available when he or she is 65.
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