Fri, Aug 03, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Hearing held on pension reform

HECKLES AND JEERS The current proposal has been strongly criticized, especially by labor representatives who say the payouts in the proposed plan are paltry and unfair

By Angelica Oung  /  STAFF REPORTER

A proposal to reform the Labor Pension Program was met with heckles and jeers from scores of labor representatives at a public hearing yesterday.

Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) officials argued at yesterday's hearing that reforming the labor pension system from one that pays out lump sums upon retirement to an annuities system is an urgent task that will benefit workers.

Union leaders countered that the draft amendment to the Labor Pension Act (勞工退休金條例) that was approved by the Executive Yuan will shortchange workers and represent a step backwards in terms of benefits under the cover of reform.

"After the reforms each worker can keep getting an inflation-adjusted check for as long as he or she lives," said Chen Hui-rong (陳蕙蓉), an official from the council's Bureau of Labor Insurance. "This represent a tremendous step forward in financial security."

However, labor representatives said the payout of the proposed plan would be paltry and unfair.

"How can those bureaucrats who are so generous to themselves be so stingy to the working men and women of this country," Lin Ming-hsien (林明賢), the former deputy general secretary of the Taiwan Confederation of Trade Unions, said at the hearing hosted by Taiwan Solidarity Union Legislator Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛).

While the payout of the proposed annualized labor pension would be calculated by a worker's average wage over 10 years, civil servants use their wage at retirement, likely to be the peak of their earnings, to calculate their pension, Lin said.

In addition, the percentage of a worker's former salary paid in retirement would be calculated by the number of years worked times 1.1 percent for labor insurance beneficiaries, while the percentage paid to civil servants is the number of years in service multiplied by 2 percent, he said.

"This is not counting the other perks such as getting to keep their money in very high interest saving accounts," he said.

Another point of contention was the way in which benefits for workers injured or killed on the job would be calculated.

According to the proposed amendment, the benefits of such workers are calculated upon the number of years he or she had been working at the time of the debilitating injury or death.

A worker who was injured while very young would be more likely to have family obligations, labor leaders said.

Such a worker, however, would also be likely to have racked up the fewest working years, they said.

Trade union representatives called for the draft amendment to be pulled from consideration and for a referendum to be held on the issue of labor insurance.

The "labor friendly" version approved by the unions who participated at the public hearing calls for the benefits to be calculated from an average of the 10 highest-earning years of the worker's career and for the factor used to calculate the payout to be raised from 1.1 percent to 1.5 percent.

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