The National Taiwan University (NTU) Union yesterday welcomed the Taipei High Administrative Court’s decision to reject a lawsuit filed by the university against a Council of Labor Affairs’ ruling that students working as teaching assistants (TA) and research assistants (RA) are school employees.
“The court decision says whether you are a TA, an RA, or are hired for a project, you are an employee of the university. Your status as a student and as an employee do not contradict each other,” NTU Union secretary-general Lin Heng-kai (林衡凱) said after the court handed down its decision in the morning. “This is a victory not only for the NTU union, but it is a victory for the more than 100,000 graduate students working as assistants on campuses around the country.”
Both the council and the court have made similar decisions that recognize that students working as teaching or research assistants are university employees, “which means we enjoy all the rights granted to laborers by the law. We hereby call on the National Taiwan University administration to recognize those rights and not appeal the court’s decision,” Lin said.
Teaching and research assistants filed an complaint with the council, accusing the university of violating labor laws by giving salaries or providing working conditions that are lower than those required by the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法).
After the council ruled in favor of the union in April, the university filed a lawsuit seeking to have the council’s decision overturned.
The university said that graduate students working as teaching or research assistants are not employees, but students with jobs that are internship in nature and that give them hands-on experience, so they should not enjoy full labor rights under the law.
However, the Taipei High Administrative Court disagreed and rejected the school’s lawsuit.
“We want our status as employees so that we may have a legal basis to fight for our working hours, salary, labor insurance and other labor rights,” Lin said. “We call on the government and schools to take responsibility for protecting labor rights on campuses.”
“What we need are talented people, not slaves,” he said.