TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwan's teachers have threatened to go on a de facto strike next week to protest the government's pension reform plan that promises to delay their retirement.
Leaders of the National Federation of Teachers Unions on Friday called on its members to "collectively" take a leave of absence on Monday. Taiwan's teachers are forbidden by law to go on a strike.
The NFTU leaders said they expected 100,000 teachers nationwide to respond to their call to action, which will also include flooding President Tsai Ing-wen's Facebook page with messages and organizing demonstrations at local government offices.
The pension reform is seeking to delay teachers' retirement age to 60. The current system allows most of them to retire in their early 50s.
"We are taking 'actions of contention,' not protesting," said union chairman Chang Hsu-cheng, adding, "This is because the union has always been in support of reasonable reform, unlike other groups who reject reform."
Chang said the pension reform package allowed the government to avoid its responsibilities as the teachers' employer and the fact of its failure to ensure a sustainable pension fund. The late retirement would block the recruitment of young teachers, Chang added.
The NFTU had challenged the Presidential Office to an open debate on the reform but was ignored, Chang said, adding that the response from the government to their demands had been empty.
The pension fund for civil servants and teachers faced bankruptcy mainly because contributions to the fund had been insufficient, Chang said.
Chang said the teachers would be willing to make more contributions to the fund from their monthly salaries, but that the government must promise their contributions would go to the pension fund to help stabilize its finances.
The government must also make up the balance resulting from its insufficient contributions over the years, Chang said.
The National Pension Reform Committee dismissed the claims that the government was trying to dodge its responsibilities.
Vice President Chen Chien-jen, who heads the committee, called for rational discussion on pension reform. In a message posted on his Facebook page, Chen likened the pension fund to a reservoir, saying that when the water outflow was faster than the inflow, the reservoir would dry up eventually.
To be continued with www.chinapost.com.tw