Civil servant status row continues

RESTRICTIONS::The change in status of government employees would restrict them from transferring to other agencies, but would increase their pension payments

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

Sun, Jan 06, 2013 - Page 3

A row between the Executive Yuan and the Examination Yuan continued yesterday over a plan for government employees who have not passed the required national examinations for public functionaries to be recognized as civil servants.

Premier Sean Chen (陳冲) yesterday questioned the Examination Yuan about its change in position on the issue, saying that it was once in agreement favor of employees being able to have their status changed to civil servants.

However, Civil Service Vice Minister Wu Tsung-cheng (吳聰成) denied this, saying that the Examination Yuan has never agreed on this policy and that it will continue to oppose it.

The proposal is currently being discussed by the legislature.

Under the government’s ongoing organizational restructuring, the Bureau of Labor Insurance (BLI), a state-owned enterprise, is to be converted to an administrative agency after it is incorporated into the Ministry of Labor, which will be created in July through an upgrade to the Council of Labor Affairs.

The same will happen to the Bureau of National Health Insurance (BNHI) after it is merged with the Department of Health and subsequently upgraded to the Ministry of Health and Wellfare.

The Executive Yuan proposed related restructuring amendments stipulating that specialists at the BLI and the BNHI, who currently total 1,094, be given a choice to have their status changed to civil servants or retain their original status.

If they are made civil servants, they could receive a lower monthly salary than they do now, but they would be able to have their pension paid in monthly installments, which would enable them to receive a much larger total retirement pension.

Chen said that the specialists already made themselves civil servants after they passed “promotion exams.”

“The promotion exams were held by the Examination Yuan. They have certificates issued by the Examination Yuan and signed by presidents, ministers and directors-general of the Examination Yuan,” Chen said.

The question of whether the specialists are civil servants is “a legal gray area” because the Examination Yuan at one point recognized them as civil servants, Chen said.

Chen said the Examination Yuan changed its position in 1998.

The Executive Yuan originally proposed that the specialists be recognized as civil servants in an effort to help them feel more at ease in a new working environment, Chen said.

Considering that the specialists were not recruited through the civil servants examination system as other civil servants have been, they would be restricted, by the “well-thought-out” amendments from transferring to other government agencies after being made civil servants, he said.

Wu insisted that the Examination Yuan was opposed to the amendments.

Citing a ruling handed down by the Supreme Administrative Court in 2003 that the “promotion exam” did not grant the specialists civil servant status, Wu said that the Examination Yuan made its stance clear to the Executive Yuan when the amendments were formulated by the Cabinet.

“Our opinions were not respected,” he said.

Wu said that the Examination Yuan was firmly opposed to the Cabinet’s proposal.