Gov’t employees won’t get pay hike: CPA

The China Post staff

The Central Personnel Administration (CPA) has adopted a plan not to give pay hikes to 900,000 government employees and servicemen next year, while the Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) doesn’t plan to raise the minimum monthly wage. CPA director general Lee Yi-yang recently held a meeting of the committee responsible for the screening compensation for government employees, servicemen, and teachers at public schools. Members on the panel adopted several major resolutions, including freezing salaries. They made the decision on the grounds that the consumer price index in Taiwan fell 0.1 percent in the January-May period while the figure for the whole year of 2002 will inch up only 0.6 percent. They also cited the fact that Hong Kong had actually reduced the pay for government employees to cope with the economic downturn.

The panelists decided not to adopt proposals made by lawmakers to cut the pay of people working in the public sector. They said that the pay scale for government employees in senior positions still lags behind the private sector. A pay cut would weaken the government’s ability to retain talented people, they said. They also built a consensus that government employees’ pay should not be pegged solely to the economic growth rate. They said the decision should hinge on a wider variety of factors including considerations of the government’s financial situation, pay scales in private enterprises, the job market, and international labor conditions. The CPA will submit the proposals to Premier Yu Shyi-kun soon for final approval. To offer greater incentives to government employees, the government will pay out cash awards for outstanding performers, starting on Jan. 1. The CPA picked 274 government units to experiment with the cash prize system early this year. Government officials are encouraged by the experiment’s results. For government units with 5,000 staff members, a NT$2.5 million fund (equivalent to NT$500 per person) will be set aside from personnel costs as cash prizes. Less than 20 percent of the prize money will be awarded to outstanding individual staffers and no more than 80 percent will be doled out as group awards. CPA officials estimate a qualified individual government employee will have the chance of winning a NT$50,000 cash award each year. Premier Yu has approved implementation of the new awards system, beginning next year.

Meanwhile, Vice Chairman Lin Fung-bing of the CLA said the council backs the plan not to raise salaries for people working in the public sector. The council will not increase the current NT$15,840 monthly minimum wage either.

While many local people still draw wages below the figure at jobs in the private sector, hiking the minimum wage would only benefit foreign workers working in Taiwan, Lin said.