Sat, Aug 15, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Teachers’ unions defend agreement with Yilan County

By Abraham Gerber  /  Staff reporter

The first-ever labor agreement between a local government and a teachers’ union is intended to clarify teachers’ rights and duties, the National Federation of Teachers’ Unions (NFTU) said yesterday in response to criticism from parents’ groups.

The agreement between the Yilan County Government and a local teachers’ union mandates an eight-hour workday for union members in 42 of the county’s 100 elementary and middle schools. It also limits the number of workdays during summer and winter vacations, and provides new subsidies for health check-ups.

The agreement is the first ever negotiated between a teachers’ union and a local government since teachers were allowed to organize in 2011. It includes an “anti-free rider provision,” which prevents it from being applied to non-union members.

Negotiating the agreement was a right provided by the Labor Union Act (工會法) and Collective Agreement Act (團體協約法), the federation said, adding that the controversial provisions were only intended to clarify and codify existing teachers’ rights and duties.

The agreement has drawn fire from the National Alliance of Parents Organizations (NAPO), which has accused the teachers’ union of “fattening themselves” at other’s expense.

NAPO chairman Wu Fu-pin (吳福濱) said that teachers’ extended time-off during school breaks served to compensate them for overtime during school term.

As such, simultaneously limiting regular working hours and working days during summer and winter vacations is inappropriate, he said.

While allowing teachers to claim overtime and other labor benefits could be considered, it should occur only as part of a comprehensive review of other teacher benefits, including the revocation of “civil servant-like ” benefits, such as job, salary and pension guarantees, he said.

Alternatively, teachers should not receive a salary for days that they do not work during vacation months, he said.

Wu also criticized the agreement’s negotiation process, saying that even though parents’ groups are important stakeholders, only one parental representative was invited to participate.

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