Mon, Jun 12, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Pension compensation for conscripts urged

By Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter

Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) members and former military conscripts yesterday urged the government to amend its reform plans to include a “conscript pension,” saying it is unfair that only former conscripts who work in the public sector can count their years in the military toward their pension entitlements.

The same seniority calculation criterion is not applicable to conscripts who later pursue a career in the private sector, and their military service does not qualify them for pension eligibility, making the nation’s pension system biased toward public-sector workers, TSU Deputy Secretary-General Wang Ming-yuan (王銘源) said.

The bias stems from Constitutional Interpretation No. 455, which defines military personnel as civil servants and stipulates that the service of conscripts who later work as public-sector employees contributes toward their retirement benefits, Wang said.

The constitutional ruling favors private-sector workers over public-sector employees, which should be considered a violation of the constitutional right to equality, he said.

The conscripts “served the nation for two or three years, so why are there two different systems [for calculating pensions]?” Wang said.

“The government has to make pension allowances for the military service performed because [private-sector] employers have nothing to do [with the military],” he said.

Prior to 2001, all male Taiwanese were required to do two years of compulsory military service, but between 1967 and 1986, conscripts in some branches of the military were required to serve an extra year.

The TSU and a number of former conscripts also urged the government to compensate those who were asked to serve an additional year.

Wu Ching-tan (巫清潭), the organizer of a group advocating compensation for people who have served for three years, said that the extra year of service was an illegal imposition, as the Military Service Act (兵役法) specifies two years of military service.

The government at the time issued an executive order to authorize the extra year.

The “unconstitutional” executive order violated the rights of about 567,000 conscripts and the government should compensate them, Wu said.

“We call on President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) administration not to overlook justice. It has to do with what is just for conscripts when carrying out pension reform,” he said.

Prior to Tsai taking office last year, conscript rights advocates visited the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) headquarters over the issue and were promised a reply.

Tsai, the DPP chairperson, last year asked the party’s decisionmaking body to consider the demand to compensate conscripts, but no legislation has yet been proposed, Wu said.

The TSU and conscript rights advocates would launch an organization campaigning for the pension benefits of conscripts to ensure the rights of millions of former conscripts, former TSU legislator Chou Ni-an (周倪安) said.

The government should recognize years of military service as eligible for pension benefits regardless of a worker’s occupation, as a significant objective of the pension reform is to narrow the gap between the pension benefits of private and public-sector workers, Chou said.

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