Thu, Apr 23, 2009 - Page 4 News List

Students to join parade to protest labor policies

By Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

More than 10 student organizations representing various universities will join the May Day parade for the first time to voice their discontent at the government’s labor policies in the face of rising unemployment.

Representatives of the groups tore up signs that said “on sale” as a gesture to declare that they do not want to become “cheap labor” at a news conference in Taipei yesterday.

Youth Labor Union 95 executive member Chen Po-chien (陳柏謙) panned the government over its college internship program in which positions provided by businesses would be paid for by the government and made available to students for a year.

“This internship program not only takes away job opportunities from middle-aged and elderly unemployed workers, but also exploits college students as the NT$22,000 monthly salary is lower than the average NT$25,000 a college graduate earns,” Chen told a press conference. “After the year is up, the intern will become unemployed, while the businesses can just find another intern paid for by the government — it doesn’t solve the problem.”

Chiu Chung-wei (邱崇偉), a senior history major at Fujen Catholic University and vice president of the school’s Black Ditch Club, agreed.

“Many graduates I know went for the internships thinking it was an opportunity, but they’re not paid enough to support their daily expenses and don’t know what to do after the internship ends,” Chiu said. “I’m about to graduate and I’m also unsure about the future.”

Meanwhile, Lin Yi-chih (林奕志), a member of National Chengchi University’s Graduate Student Association, said that students working part-time on campus as research assistants or teaching assistants should be covered by the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法).

“Teaching assistants teach a lot of classes, but they’re paid with what’s left over from the professor’s project budget,” Lin said. “It’s even worse for research assistants, since they’re paid by the hour and don’t always work every day.”

Worried about their future and dissatisfied with current labor policies, the students have decided to join the May Day parade for the first time.

“May 1 is not a holiday for students, so we’re not sure how many people will join us,” Chen said. “We’re counting on about 100 students.”

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