The Cabinet yesterday approved an amendment to the Teacher Education Law (
"Whether teachers should be granted the right to strike has been controversial in Taiwan. Given the lack of consensus, we have decided not to allow it," said Ke Jeng-feng (柯正峰), executive secretary of the Ministry of Education's Education Research Committee.
Ke hailed the amendment for including a new chapter on the negotiation and mediation process, which teachers can use when labor disputes arise.
Ke made the remarks at a press conference after the weekly Cabinet meeting.
The amendment, however, was criticized by the National Teachers' Association, a nationwide organization composed of teachers' associations around the country.
Liu Chin-hsu (劉欽旭), secretary-general of the association, said he suspected that the law was changed to hinder a proposed amendment to the Labor Union Law (工會法).
Activists in support of the right to strike for teachers have been pushing for a revision of Article Four of the Labor Union Law, which denies government employees, teachers and munitions industries the right to strike, but the amendment is still pending approval by legislature.
"Today we made progress in agreeing to exclude teachers from the article, but the Cabinet's amendment to the Teacher Education Law apparently runs counter to that," Liu said.
Liu said negotiations on the article, attended by lawmakers across party lines sitting on the legislature's Sanitation and Environment and Social Welfare committees, were held yesterday, and giving teachers the right to organize trade unions was accepted by all.
According to the consensus reached in the negotiation, teachers would be allowed to organize trade unions on condition that the right to strike be postponed for a year.
"We agreed to temporarily put off the right to strike to facilitate the amendment to the Trade Labor Law, but that doesn't mean the Cabinet should deprive teachers of their right to strike, as stipulated in the amendment to the Teacher Education Law," Liu said.
Liu said it was also regrettable that the amendment to the Teacher Education Law also denied teachers the right to organize trade unions and the right to collective bargaining, which, together with the right to strike, make up the three basic labor rights.
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