Former Kaohsiung firefighter and labor rights advocate Hsu Kuo-yao’s (徐國堯) case has reached the Council of Grand Justices, Hsu said yesterday, setting the stage for a possible ruling that might have implications on how the government deals with labor movements in the public sector.
In 2014, Hsu was dismissed from the Kaohsiung City Fire Department shortly after organizing a labor rights march. He was previously given 43 demerits over three months for violations including serving as an administrator at the National Association for Firefighters’ Rights and damaging the department’s image by speaking to the media.
After his firing, Hsu filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn his dismissal.
His case has been championed by labor rights advocates, who have said the dismissal was linked to his role in coordinating two protest marches for firefighters’ rights.
However, his case has suffered repeated setbacks in administrative courts, which have repeatedly rejected his appeals.
Hsu yesterday said that a petition to the grand justices seeking a constitutional ruling was submitted last week with the help of lawyers from the Judicial Reform Foundation.
The petition argues that previous court rulings violate Judicial Yuan Interpretation No. 243, which found that civil servants have a constitutional right to appeal dismissal, but not demerits that do not lead to dismissal.
“The government has argued that none of the demerits had a ‘major impact’ justifying appeal rights under the decision, but they added up to a dismissal, and there should be a right to appeal each component of that decision,” he said, adding that administrative courts have refused to consider the reasoning behind individual demerits when considering his appeal.
The petition also contended that relevant provisions of the Police Personnel Management Act (警察人員人事條例) violate the constitutional right to equality by requiring different dismissal standards for police officers and firefighters from other civil servants, Hsu added.
While most civil servants have their demerits cleared on a yearly basis, those for firefighters and police officers do not expire, allowing the government to use past demerits to dismiss them, he said.
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