Sat, Aug 29, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Groups criticize Yilan’s plans for teachers

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

National Alliance of Parents Organizations chairman Wu Fu-pin, third left, Secondary and Elementary-School Principals Association of the ROC director-general Hsueh Chun-kuang, second left, and other education group representatives yesterday speak in Taipei against the Yilan City Government’s joint agreement for teachers.

Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times

Education groups opposing a draft collective agreement by the Yilan County Government to improve teachers’ welfare yesterday criticized the county government and the Yilan County Teachers’ Union over proposals they said would waste taxpayers’ money and result in inequality among teachers.

Secondary and Elementary School Principals Association director Hsueh Chun-kuang (薛春光) said that despite the draft, the union, which comprises 42 elementary and junior-high schools, has threatened legal action against the county government if it grants non-union members the same benefits as its members.

He warned the county government not to think the collective agreement would settle the dispute.

National Alliance of Parents Organizations director Wu Fu-pin (吳福濱) said the union wants to cap teachers’ daily work hours at eight hours a day, from 8am to 4pm, which means that teachers may neglect students participating in after-school programs.

He said union members are lobbying for overtime pay for the guidance they provide to students with poor grades, but it is their responsibility as teachers to help these students and monitor their progress.

He said that teachers at public schools are civil servants, and if they want to enjoy the same benefits as other workers, they should forfeit their salaries during summer and winter vacations and accept unpaid leave — as other workers do — when schools are in dire financial situations.

He also took issue with the union’s demand that they be granted subsidies for health checkups, which according to the Ministry of the Education cost NT$3,500 each biennially.

“You cannot expect to have the best of both worlds,” Wu said.

He panned Yilan Department of Education Department Director-General Wen Chao-shun (文超順) for making concessions that paved the way for the draft, which he said would degrade the quality of education and result in an education system that puts teachers ahead of students.

In response, union director Chu Yao-lin (朱堯麟) denied that members demanded overtime pay.

“Our position has always been that the extra time invested by teachers should be compensated by time off in lieu,” Chu said.

He said that the union made the demand that teachers who have not joined a union should not enjoy the same perks as those who have so that the union’s operations conform to the Collective Agreement Act (團體協約法).

The Occupational Safety and Health Act (職業安全衛生法) also stipulates that teachers’ medical checkups should be covered by the ministry, he said.

Chu said that at present, only high-ranking school administrators at primary schools and junior high schools are granted subsidies for checkups.

Separately, National Federation of Teachers’ Unions president Chang Hsu-cheng (張旭政) said that all of the union’s demands were legitimate. He said that he once suggested that the ministry abolish summer and winter vacations, so that teachers must work if they want to be paid, but the ministry rejected his proposal.

He criticized the attacks directed at union members by the principals’ association, saying that the association made the criticism because it could not stand teachers negotiating toe-to-toe with principals.

Both Chu and Chang said that they welcome more teachers to join the union, so that they can enjoy the benefits granted to them by law.

In related news, Minister of Education Wu Se-hwa (吳思華) on Thursday said during a nationwide meeting attended by local government-level education heads: “In principle, teachers’ work hours should be eight hours a day, 40 hours a week, but teachers should always keep one notion in mind: ‘If students are still around, teachers should be too.’”

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