Tue, Oct 23, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Students conduct sit-in at ministry over internships

By Jenny W. Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

A group of students staged a sit-in in front of the Ministry of Education yesterday, claiming they were cheated by their school's "college-education cooperation" program and that they were being treated like cheap menial workers instead of student interns.

In response, the principal said the school never misled the students but agreed to discuss the concerns with the students at a later date.

Students from the China Institute of Technology's (中華技術學院) Department of Aviation Services and Management said when they enrolled in the program, they were promised NT$25,000 each month as well as a chance to learn professional skills.

Students in the program attend regular classes only once a week while working at their assigned company five days a week.

"School personnel told us we would be getting NT$25,000 each month but the actual salary is only NT$19,000," a student nicknamed A-tao (阿濤) said.

It is unfair for me to pay full tuition when I only attend school one day a week, he said.

The students' demands include a fair wage as originally promised, reduced tuition and a chance for drop-outs to return to school without any hassles.

Students said they were told that their workday would end at 10pm but have often been kept on past midnight.

Some also said they were promised they would be learning basic aviation service skills like ticketing, but instead they were only doing menial janitorial work such as cleaning the bathroom and collecting wheelchairs.

One female student named Harry said she first signed up for the program because she was told she would have a chance to become a full-time worker after graduation.

This turned out to be untrue, she said, as the company she works for has never hired any females as full-time workers and all the women who currently work in the company are contract workers, she said.

School principal Chen Hsin-hsiung (陳信雄) said the students are training to become managers. In order to become a good manager, said Chen, students must start at the bottom.

Chen also said the school never forced anyone to drop out and was very clear on the "no-return" policy, as prescribed by the law, when the students wanted to quit.

The drop-out list has not yet made it to the ministry so there might be a chance for the students to change their minds, he said.

"We will do our best to assist the students," the principal said, but he was unwilling to make any commitments on the spot.

After three hours of negotiation, the school agreed to pay each student NT$6,000 more each month to make up the difference and promised to hold meetings tomorrow to discuss the issue.

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