Mon, Dec 17, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Interns’ rights trampled: group

UNCOVERED:Activists say that many interns in technical and vocational colleges are not only excluded from insurance schemes, but are paid less than the minimum wage

Staff writer, with CNA

A group of student activists on Saturday said that interns from vocational and technical colleges should be included in the Labor Insurance Fund and National Health Insurance program, and paid the minimum monthly wage.

A July survey of 77 technology and vocational schools nationwide showed that 80 percent of such schools do not include students who work part-time on their campuses in the labor and health insurance system, the activists said. In addition, 98 percent of such schools do not have regulations requiring that interns be guaranteed coverage under the labor and health insurance programs when working at companies, the activists said.

The poll also found that 97 percent of vocational and technical schools do not ask for the minimum monthly wage for their interns, said the activists, who are from a group of university students that evaluate students’ rights.

According to the poll, 71 percent of the schools still require students in internship programs to pay full fees and tuition, the activists said.

All of this indicates that vocational and technical schools are failing to protect the working rights of interns, the activists said.

Nicole Lee (李彥儀), director of the Ministry of Education’s Department of Technological and Vocational Education, said regulations published in February stipulate that schools set up ad hoc committees to make sure that students on internship contracts are listed as technicians and covered under labor and health insurance programs.

The department will ask non-complying schools to get in line with regulations as soon as possible, she said.

Lee also said schools are allowed to collect tuition and miscellaneous fees from the interns since such programs are an extension of the curriculum and require teacher supervision and guidance.

However, Lee said the department will suggest that miscellaneous fees be reduced in cases where the student is working in an off-campus internship.

The group said the survey also found that most vocational and technical schools limit students’ rights in areas such as freedom of speech, right to assembly and right to publish, in violation of the Constitution.

According to the survey, 41 percent of such schools have a clause in their regulations restricting students’ right to assembly and to demonstrate, 29 percent tend to punish students who initiate student movements and 76 percent review students’ publications before they are released.

In addition, 93 percent of the schools have dorm curfews and 14 percent have a system that can cut off Internet connection on campus, the activists said.

In response, the department said that of the 160-plus higher education institutions in the country, 26 may be in possible violation of the wokers’ rights stipulated by the Constitution. The department said it has asked those schools to review their regulations.

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