Taiwan: Union celebrates a decade of fighting for educators’ rights

published 10 August 2021 updated 12 August 2021

To mark its 10th anniversary, the National Teachers’ Association (NTA)/National Federation of Teachers Union (NFTU) of Taiwan has reaffirming its commitment to fight for teachers’ right to organise as public sector employees and to professional development.

The NTA/NFTU was established on 11 July 2011. “Looking back the journey of union struggles, unfair labour practice against teachers forced teachers to take to the streets, fighting for their basic labour rights, such as the right to organise,” the NTA/NFTU said in a statement on 18 July.

While teachers in Taiwan had been deprived of their right to organise for 60 years, a decade of relentless lobbying as well as dialogue with the government and the public finally resulted in the birth of the NTA/NFTU.

Mobilising for unionism

Among other actions, over 100,000 teachers left their classrooms and organised a sit-in action in front of the Presidential Office, demanding respect for their right to form the union.

Teachers began to establish union branches in schools, cities, and counties levels, up to the national level. This breakthrough marked the fact that the outdated and restrictive law - Union Act - could never stop workers across sectors from pursuing respect for their rights.

NTA/NFTU founding president and current general secretary Liu recalled broken government promises on policy and that the union was severely undermined at that time.

Collaboration and solidarity

However, he underlined that “the collaborative strength among NTA/NFTU local and national leadership overcame obstacles one after another”.

For many years, Education International has stood with teachers in Taiwan, extending solid international support for strengthening teachers’ unionism as well as professional development in this country.

Liu stressed, “It is never easy when you are on the bridge over troubled waters. It is solidarity that led us to success.”

Ongoing struggle for fair labour conditions

As teachers’ rights to collective bargaining and strikes are still prohibited by Taiwanese national law, NTA/NFTU has recently entered a negotiation process with the government.

Union president Hou and former president Chang took up this challenging mission to secure fair labour conditions and dignity for teachers.

“We would like to thank every teacher member of NTA/NFTU,” said Hou. “Because of your passion and engagement, together we wrote our own union’s history full of tears and joy, sharing genuine friendship in good and bad times.”

Video “NFTU 10th anniversary: A decade to remember”: