Saturday, March 25, 2017

Alliance to protest pension reforms in Taipei today

Alliance to protest pension reforms in Taipei today

By Chen Yu-fu  /  Staff reporter

Police yesterday put up barricades on Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office Building to prepare for a protest expected today against pension reform.

Photo: Huang Yao-cheng, Taipei Times

The Alliance for Monitoring Pension Reform — a coalition of retired and incumbent military personnel, public servants and teachers — is to stage a rally on Ketagalan Boulevard in Taipei today as a pension reform conference is held at the Presidential Office Building.
Alliance convener Huang Yao-nan (黃耀南) said members have been taking turns on a hunger strike for more than 96 hours, but have not been invited to the conference.
Because of that, the alliance will express its opinions at a street rally, Huang said.
He said there would be at least 30,000 people at the protest.
The group applied for a permit to rally on Ketagalan Boulevard and Zhongshan S Road and a stage was being set up near Jingfu Gate (景福門) with a big screen, and having protesters “pass by” the Presidential Office Building remains a possibility, Huang said.
In September last year, an alliance rally was ridiculed by netizens as “precisely what civil servants would do,” with protesters dispersing at 5pm.
Members have vowed to “show their true strength” this time by “dashing and ramming” those in the Presidential Office Building so they know that public opinion opposes them.
“The pension reform proposal unveiled on Thursday outlines massive cuts to government spending on pensions,” Huang said.
Under the current system, monthly pensions paid to public servants is calculated on their insured monthly salary, he said.
The reform proposal would see pensions based on the average insured salary of the final 15 years of employment, Huang said, adding that retired military personnel and public servants would be paid only half of what they would have received under the old system.
“This is a trick. Its real purpose is to cut wages,” National Civil Servant Association president Harry Lee (李來希) said.
After 30 years of service military personnel and civil servants who entered the system under the new rules would receive pensions at a rate of 51 percent of their income, Lee said.
For those with 25 years of service, the ratio would be 42 percent, he said.
Lee said the proposal would damn lower-ranking public servants to low-income lifestyles.
“Service years that count toward the base for determining pensions is capped at 35, so why would people serve for 40 years?” Lee asked.
The government’s cuts would not stop at military personnel, public servants and teachers, he said.
Lee said that the 18 percent preferential interest rate — which the reform seeks to phase out over a six-year period — “was part of pensions for military personnel, public servants and teachers, as they had lower incomes compared with other sectors in the past.”
Those who opted to take their pension as a lump sum, if they are 85 now, “would not be able to live” six years from now, Lee said, adding that “the 18 percent preferential rate definitely cannot be lowered to 0 percent.”
Lee said Vice President Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) should discuss the issue with him on a TV talk show.
“If Chen has a tight schedule, perhaps Minister [Without Portfolio and Pension Reform Committee Executive Director] Lin Wan-i (林萬億) could take his place,” he said.

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