The National Federation of Teachers Unions on Monday urged the government to scrap regulations limiting teachers’ rights to establish corporate unions in schools.
The federation said that because teachers are banned from establishing corporate unions and can only establish trade or industrial unions, they could not fully exercise their labor rights due to the limited nature of the latter organizations. Despite the lifting of a ban on teachers’ trade and industrial unions and the passing of two UN human rights covenants — the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights — teachers’ labor rights are still limited, the federation said.
It urged the government to amend the Labor Union Act (新工會法), the Collective Agreement Act (團體協約法) and the Act for Settlement of Labor-Management -Disputes (勞資爭議處理法), which are the country’s three benchmark laws designed to protect workers’ rights.
The Labor Union Act stipulates that teachers can only establish trade or industrial unions which require no compulsory membership by teachers — a regulation the federation said limits teachers’ rights. In addition, the Collective Agreement Act stipulates that only a trade union with a membership of more than 50 percent of the employees in a given industry has the right to engage in collective bargaining and the right to negotiate disputes with employers.
The federation suggested that if the government does not lift the ban on teachers’ corporate unions in the short-term, it should at least allow trade union members to receive paid leave to attend union meetings. Fred van Leeuwen, general secretary of Education International — a global federation of teachers’ unions — who was invited by the group to speak at a press conference, said Taiwanese society holds serious misconceptions about teachers’ unions, adding that he was especially shocked to realize that many Taiwanese believe teachers’ demands for their rights undermine the rights of students.