Taipei, April 19 (CNA) Several medical interns complained Thursday about long hours on the job and other working conditions, saying they should be protected under the Labor Standards Act.
Medical interns pay taxes but are not protected under the act, are not covered by labor insurance, and are not eligible for occupational injury compensation, said Liu Lin-wei, a member of the Federation of Medical Students in Taiwan, at a press conference held at the Legislature.
The working conditions of medical interns came to the forefront last year after the death of an intern at National Cheng Kung University Hospital (NCKUH), allegedly from overwork.
The family of the intern, surnamed Lin, spoke at the press conference about the circumstances surrounding his death.
Lin's father said he was told that his son, a healthy man, had died of unknown causes. This was unacceptable, the father said.
Although hospital rules state that interns are allowed to take a day off after an intense work schedule the previous day, interns do not dare take advantage of the rule for fear of being given bad grades, the father said.
Lin's sister said that one year after her brother's death, medical interns are still working overtime and are given no protection under the country's labor laws. She said she feels her brother died in vain.
NCKUH Deputy Superintendent Yang Chyun-yu said at the press conference that the hospital management is trying to provide assistance to Lin's family and plans to set up a memorial to Lin.
Kuomintang (KMT) Legislator Su Ching-chuan, who is a doctor, said that medical interns and nurses should be considered as apprentices and thus should be protected under the Labor Standards Act. He also proposed setting up a pension fund for medical interns.
Medical Affairs Bureau Director Shih Chung-liang said the bureau will protect the rights of medical interns by asking hospitals to give them standard contracts.
The contracts will detail interns' work hours and rights, and compensation for occupational injuries, in accordance to the Labor Standards Act provisions for apprentices, he said.
KMT Legislator Wu Yu-jen said he will propose an amendment to the Act to include medical interns.
(By Chen Wei-ting and Ann Chen)