SOCIAL PRESSURE:Pension benefits come at the cost of young people and reform should be a matter of conscience, a former Taipei high-school teacher said
By Abraham Gerber / Staff reporter
Social Democratic Party policy committee convener and National Taiwan University professor Fan Yun, center, attends a pension reform news conference in the Legislative Yuan yesterday.
Pension reform is necessary for “generational justice,” several retired teachers associated with the Social Democratic Party (SDP) said yesterday in Taipei, adding that while not all teachers are opposed to pension reform, social pressure has kept most from speaking out.
“We have to stand up to make people see that not all pensioners and employees are represented by [National Civil Servant Association president] Harry Lee (李來希) — there are a lot of other viewpoints,” said SDP policy committee convener Fan Yun (范雲), a professor at National Taiwan University.
Three retired teachers joined Fan and other SDP members shouting the slogan: “Less money means more dignity.”
Lee has served as one of the key spokesman of the Alliance for Monitoring Pension Reform, a coalition of groups representing government employees and retirees which earlier this month mobilized more 100,000 people in a protest demanding “dignity” and an end to the “stigmatization” of pensioners’ generous benefits, while opposing any retroactive benefit cuts.
“Pension reform should be a matter of conscience — why do we need all of this money?” said Chang Chen-hsien (張禎賢), a former teacher at Taipei Chenggong High School. “Many young people only earn NT$22,000 a month, but I get NT$70,000 for doing nothing.”
“Because our benefits come at the price of exploiting young people, we should take the moral high ground and recognize that the old should ‘guard against covetousness,’” said retired elementary-school teacher Fu Shu-li (傅淑儷), quoting a passage of the Analects.
“The reality is that many younger teachers are worried about whether they’ll be able to receive a pension at all, but they don’t dare speak because of fear of retaliation from directors and principals,” Fu said.
She declined to comment on the motivation behind the National Federation of Teachers’ Unions (NFTU) withdrawal from the National Pension Reform Commission, while confirming that it is perceived as being close to the Democratic Progressive Party.
The NFTU withdrew shortly after Alliance for Monitoring Pension Reform’s protest march, with rumors that it had come under criticism from its own members.
Wu Chung-tai (吳忠泰) — the NFTU’s representative to the commission — has been involved in drafting the DPP’s education policy since the administrative of former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), she said.