Fri, Feb 08, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Unions protest labor insurance reforms

By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff reporter

Members of Solidarity, unhappy with the Cabinet’s labor pension reform proposal, protest outside the Executive Yuan in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times

Separated by a metal gate, unionists yesterday rallied outside the Executive Yuan against the government’s plans to reform labor insurance and pension systems as Premier Sean Chen (陳冲) and his Cabinet members posed for photographs following their resignation as part of a Cabinet reshuffle.

The government has come up with a program to reform the pension system that would decrease the payout to retirees while gradually increasing the premium paid by workers — which would increase to 19.5 percent of a worker’s salary.

“By paying the retirees less and making people who are still working pay more, the so-called ‘reform’ is taking away the protection that the labor insurance was designed to give us,” National Federation of Independent Trade Unions executive director Chu Wei-li (朱維立) said.

“It’s unfair that the officials who came up with a reform plan that benefits big corporations while exploiting workers are now promoted to higher positions,” he added.

Chu said he was referring to Vice Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺), who is to take over the premiership on Feb. 18, and Minister Without Portfolio Kuan Chung-min (管中閔), who is to become the head of the Council for Economic Planning and Development.

Chuang Fu-kai (莊福凱), chairman of the Taoyuan County Confederation of Trade Unions, who has worked for over 30 years and is near retirement, criticized the reform proposal.

“Under the current system, I could lead a decent life in retirement with the retirement payout from the labor insurance,” Chuang said. “It’s upsetting that the government is cutting my payouts while at the same time asking my children to pay more.”

Huang Shih-ting (黃仕庭), a 26-year-old worker, said the reform plans were “robbing money from young workers from two sides.”

“We are to pay a higher premium, but when the payouts for our parents are cut, we will have to provide more money to our parents,” he said.

Chu said that following the official announcement of the reform plan, business leaders urged the government to cut the portion of an employee’s retirement pension shouldered by the employer, adding that it would make it hard for businesses to survive with such a heavy burden.

“Why would they run businesses in China where the employer’s burden is even heavier?” Chu said.

He said that according to the current measure, 8 percent of an employee’s monthly salary would go to the fund for their pensions.

The 8 percent premium is divided into three portions; that the employer pays 70 percent, the employee pays 20 percent, while the government pays 10 percent.

“In China, 20 percent of an employee’s salary is to be paid as premium of labor insurance and it’s fully paid by the employer,” Chu said.

The unions urged the government to fill the financial hole in the labor insurance system by raising corporate taxes, instead of getting the money from the employees.

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