Clashes erupt outside unfair pension reform forum

Civil servants organizations oppose government plans

(By Central News Agency)

        TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Protesters in a van tried to ram their way into a forum about pension reform in Taichung, reports said Saturday.

        Following the workweek and the number of days employees can work, the next hot topic for reform listed by the government was the size of pension payments, which is most likely to affect civil servants, teachers and military staff who used to benefit from generous standards.

        The first forum in a series about the pension reforms, also known as "unfair pension reform," took place in Taipei on December 31, and became the focus of protests both inside and outside the venue.

        On Saturday, the event moved to National Chung Hsing University in Taichung, but even before it started, clashes erupted between protesters and police. A group of protesters wanted to drive a van loaded with loudspeakers and covered in slogans into the campus, but police tried to stop them, leading to violent confrontation, reports said.

        The protesters said that if police and barricades were allowed on campus, then their vehicle should also enter.

        Police officers tried to push the protesters and their van back, and in the end, the groups conceded and said they would walk to the library building where the forum was scheduled to take place during the afternoon.

        The protest groups had arrived from all over Taiwan to focus their efforts on the hearing. Civil servants organizations have accused the government of unfairly blaming them for the social benefits system’s financial problems, but the Cabinet says reforms are inevitable if the pension system is to be saved from ruin.