Marking May Day: Global education unions in solidarity with Taiwanese educators

published 29 April 2021 updated 4 May 2021

May Day for All –Education International stands in solidarity and in support of the National Teachers Association (NTA) of Taiwan, in its fight to recognise and ratify 1 May as the national holiday for working men and women in the country.

May Day is a paid holiday for private sector workers in Taiwan, but not for public sector workers. This is a glaring and visible injustice. It is also a symbol of structural discrimination in law and practice against public sector workers. Education International joins with and fully supports its member organisation, the NTA Taiwan, in its fight to make May Day a holiday for all workers.

In his statement of solidarity with the NTA Taiwan, Education International’s General Secretary, David Edwards, stressed that, “on International Workers’ Day, or popularly known in many parts of the world as Labour Day or May Day in Taiwan, we celebrate and pay homage to those workers, men and women, who have contributed for more than a century to social justice and to building a better world”.

“May Day is more than just a mere holiday,” he said, because “it is about recognising past achievements and planning for the future. It is also about guaranteeing equal rights for all citizens and for all workers.”

Respecting workers’ human rights

Edwards insisted that teachers and other public employees should be covered by the same or equivalent legal provisions and social protections. They also have the right to a dedicated seat at the negotiation table through their trade unions to achieve collective bargaining agreements.

Reiterating that governments should promote, not deny, these fundamental rights and freedoms of workers, he argued that the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that workers in the public and private sectors are impacted equally hard. However, the rights and remuneration enjoyed are different. “In this pandemic, teachers and healthcare workers ARE and WILL BE frontline workers who strive to protect the future of Taiwan. Women and men, young or old, persons with disabilities and other difficulties, should be treated with fairness and given equal rights and protections without any discrimination.”

“Teachers, like many others in public service, devote their lives to making this planet a better place to live and work. That may make them different, but human rights are inter-related and indivisible. Teachers and other public sector workers should never be distinguished from other workers in being denied the exercise of their human rights,” Edwards concludes.

Fighting a glaring and visible injustice

Anand Singh, Education International’s Regional Director for Asia-Pacific, also extended support and solidarity on behalf of 32 million teachers and education support personnel represented by Education International through its more than 400 member organisations in 171 countries.

“Education International joins with and fully supports our member organisation, the NTA Taiwan, in its fight to end that discrimination [in law and practice against public sector workers],” Singh said.

Adding that there is more to democracy than free elections - as important as they are -, he insisted that democracy is also about guaranteeing equal rights for all citizens and for all workers. Teachers and other public employees should be covered by the same or equivalent legal protections of human rights, including trade union rights, as workers in the private sector.

Call for support

Singh stressed that Education International considers that being a teacher is important. “Teachers inspire and develop children and build the future. They fight for the public good and defend public education against those who seek to corrupt its mission by transforming it from a service to communities into a service for investors.”

Education International calls on the government of Taiwan to recognise May 1st May Day as workers’ day, and as such as a public holiday, for all working people, including teachers.

The May Day campaign event organised by the NTA can be watched here