‘GOVERNMENT TRICK’:National Senior High School Teachers’ Union official Huang Yao-nan said working teachers might be fooled by using a tool for retirees by mistake
By Abraham Gerber / Staff reporter
National Senior High School Teachers’ Union director-general Huang Yao-nan, second left, speaks at a news conference in Taipei yesterday.
A government Web site for calculating pension changes following proposed reforms to the pension system should include calculations for working teachers, because they will bear the brunt of the costs, National Senior High School Teachers’ Union officials said yesterday.
“The government should not use false information to mislead teachers by saying that they will still receive monthly pensions of more than NT$50,000 under the new system,” union director-general Huang Yao-nan (黃耀南) said, adding that the calculator on the Ministry of Civil Service’s Web site fails to take into account pension benefit parameter changes for those who have yet to retire.
Teachers who are subject to the new system are those who started working after the 1995 reforms that eliminated the 18 percent preferential interest rate for government employees.
They would be eligible for retirement after 25 years of service, compared with 35 years under the old system, because of their later entry into the profession due to time spent in tertiary education.
Cash contributions to pension funds by teachers subject to the new system are also to be increased by 50 percent.
While the calculator is accurate for changes to pension benefits, many current teachers might be unaware that their benefits will be subject to a different set of parameters, Huang said, calling on the ministry to add new settings applicable to teachers of today.
A notice above the calculator says its estimates only apply to retirees, with a retirement date column used to exclude requests by those still working.
“The estimates provided by the calculator are different from the actual situation, but most teachers are not aware of that, so when you enter the numbers it can appear that there is not a significant impact,” he said.
“The reality is that the draft bill would cut a big part of currently employed teachers’ retirement benefits and every cut would strike to the bone,” he said.
Huang added that while the calculator says retired teachers with at least some seniority under the pre-1995 system would be paid pensions based on their final and highest salary, according to the pension reform plans they would be paid pensions based on the average salary of their final 15 years of employment.
Huang said the situation was a “government trick” to deceive the public and mitigate opposition to reform.
The Ministry of Education said the Web site makes it clear that the calculator is for retired teachers to estimate how reforms might affect their pensions and that is why the system has set the base year at the final-year salary.
A formula for working teachers is still being deliberated and it will launch another calculator after the pension reform committee comes up with a complete reform plan that would allow working teachers to understand their rights, it said.