Amid criticism from the public and the government’s plan to cut year-end pension benefits for retired government workers, the Retired Civil Servants’ Association announced yesterday that it was planning to stage a protest over the government’s failure to protect their rights.
“The [year-end pension benefit for retired civil servants] has been around for 40 years, so we think it is legitimate,” Pan Li-yun (潘麗雲), the chairwoman of the association who retired in 2006 after serving for 37 years at the Ministry of Civil Service, told the Taipei Times in a telephone interview.
“The government’s plan to cut our year-end pension is too severe. They didn’t thoroughly check all the facts and talk with us before making the decision. It’s hurting our feelings,” she said. “It’s unacceptable.”
Pan was referring to Premier Sean Chen’s (陳?) announcement last week that the government would stop issuing year-end bonus to retired public servants except those who are economically disadvantaged or injured on assignment, reducing the budget for it from NT$20.2 billion (US$691 million) to NT$1 billion.
The premier later added that whether the year-end benefits would be issued would be evaluated on a year-by-year basis.
The announcement was made in reaction to overwhelming criticism from the public and lawmakers over civil servants being entitled to year-end pension benefits even after retirement, on top of other pensions and welfare measures.
In a statement, the association accused the government of making a decision without thoroughly assessing the situation, and it holds the government responsible for “making public servants enemies of the people.”
“The year-end pension benefit, as part of the income for civil servants after retirement, should not be canceled without careful consideration,” the statement said. “Welfare benefits for civil servants have been cut several times, which have seriously damaged the rights and dignity of retired civil servants, the damage should not be extended.”
“We have delivered our statement to various government authorities and media outlets. We hope to receive positive responses, and we will be visiting the Chinese Nationalist Party [KMT] caucus on Nov. 8,” Pan said.
She said that the association is also mulling to take it to the streets.
“We’re talking about taking it to the streets if we don’t get reasonable response from the government and the legislature,” Pan said. “We’ll make a decision after the meeting [with the KMT caucus] on Nov. 8.”