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Taiwan: British Council teachers unionise

Teachers at British Council Taiwan (BCTW) have joined the Taiwan Higher Education Union (THEU) to demand fair and decent pay.

Teachers at BCTW have not seen a pay increase in 20 years. In that same time, cost of living has increased and minimum wage has almost doubled.

School fees have also increased by 35% since 2016, according to the THEU. They estimate school fees to go up by around 5% each year, and have ‘approximately doubled since the British Council Taiwan was first opened, while teacher salary scales remain unchanged.’

Despite this pay freeze, BCTW only employs highly-qualified teachers, with internationally recognised qualifications and a minimum of two years’ teaching experience. Further qualifications and training are needed to move up the salary scale.

Unionised teachers have asked the Council to negotiate on:

  • Salaries to reflect the rising costs of living since 2004, including compensation for teachers who have reached the top of the pay scale.
  • The requirement for teachers to work weekends and evenings without additional compensation.
  • Increased workloads since the salary scale was set.
  • Breaches in Taiwanese labour law for hourly contracted teachers.

Speaking to the Gazette, the British Council have said:

‘We are aware through collective bargaining with the teaching union that some of our academic staff have expressed dissatisfaction with their current remuneration. We have been maintaining ongoing discussions and communications to achieve mutual understanding on this matter and will continue to engage with the union to work towards resolving differences.  

‘During this time our commitment is to ensure our customers experience minimal disruption and continue to receive excellent levels of service.’

The THEU have said they intend to take further action if they are unable to reach a fair and reasonable agreement with the Council.

Image courtesy of Rovin Ferrer
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