Only 2 percent of the more than 80,000 temporary assistants taking part in National Science Council (NSC) research projects in collaboration with universities nationwide are covered by the labor insurance and national health insurance (NHI) programs, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers said yesterday.
“University campuses should not be sweatshops and these workers should not be orphans excluded from the social security net,” DPP legislators Lin Shu-fen (林淑芬) and Cheng Li-chiun (鄭麗君) told a press conference, urging the Ministry of Education to warn universities not to violate the law, and the Council of Labor Affairs to immediately carry out inspections and fine offenders.
Among the 62,992 part-time assistants in such projects, only 845 have labor insurance coverage and 809 have NHI insurance coverage, while 830 of the 19,530 part-time workers in the projects were covered by labor insurance and 480 were covered by the NHI, Lin said.
Only Fu Jen Catholic University and the National Defense Medical Center included a large majority of their part-time workers in the two insurance programs, while only 41 of the 10,780 part-time workers at National Taiwan University were insured, Lin said.
While representatives from the council said the employment relationship between the assistants — even if they are students — and the schools is beyond doubt, Ni Chou-hua (倪周華), a counselor at the ministry’s Department of Higher Education, said that this had to be determined on a case by case basis.
Budget should not be a concern because insurance expenses are included in the council’s subsidies for research projects, said Tsou Yu-han (鄒幼涵), director of the council’s Department of Central Processing.
“If the issue is not resolved as soon as possible, it could be even more difficult for universities in Taiwan to recruit young academics, who usually begin their careers as assistants in various research programs,” Cheng said.