Ahead of the legislature’s scheduled review today and tomorrow of a bill on whether teachers can form unions, the National Teachers Association (NTA) yesterday publicized a letter from Education International (EI) calling on the government to respect teachers’ right to organize labor unions.
The English letter was written by Fred van Leeuwen, secretary-general of EI — a global federation of teachers representing more than 30 million members in 171 countries — and addressed to President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).
Copies of the letter were sent to Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄), Minister of Education Cheng Jei-cheng (鄭瑞城), Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) and UNESCO.
“EI is concerned that the draft union law currently tabled at the Parliament will actually continue to exclude teachers from the fundamental right to form and join trade unions,” the letter said.
“This means that the Government is actually restricting the rights of those it directly employs,” it said.
EI was referring to a proposed amendment to the Labor Union Act (工會法) that would bar teachers from forming a labor union at the school level.
If the bill passed the legislature, teachers would for the first time in the nation’s history be allowed to establish labor unions — except at the school level.
The NTA has criticized the bill and called the proposal “discriminatory” and “hostile” to labor unions.
The legislature also passed a proposed amendment to the Settlement of Labor-Management Dispute Act (勞資爭議處理法) on Friday prohibiting teachers from going on strike.
“We invite the Parliament to consider providing all teachers of Taiwan, R.O.C. the right to form and join trade unions, as prescribed by international labour standards,” the letter said.
EI said it would continue to monitor Taiwanese teachers’ right to form labor organizations.
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