CLA considering hiking workers’ minimum wage

The China Post staff

The Cabinet-level Council of Labor Affairs is mapping out plans to raise the basic monthly wage for workers, but has yet to determine the size of the hike or how the wage raise will be carried out, CLA officials said yesterday.

CLA officials made the remarks in response to press reports that the Cabinet has decided to raise minimum monthly wage for workers and that the minimum wage will be calculated by hour instead of by month as has been practiced. The officials said that one thing for sure is that the council will move toward the direction of “making an upward adjustment” on the basic wage for workers.

Once the CLA decides to raise the minimum pay for workers, a buffer period will be offered to local enterprises for them to take effective countermeasures.

Although the minimum wage system will also be applied to foreign workers in Taiwan, the CLA will change the formula for calculating the boarding allowances and reducing the employment stabilization fund, so as not to make local employers suffer additional financial burdens.

CLA officials have been mum on whether to hike basic wage for workers. CLA chairman Lee Ying-yuan said in February that members of the basic wage screening committee under his council met to discuss the basic wage issue. Now that press reports have claimed that Premier Su Tseng-chang has agreed to boost the minimum wage for both domestic and foreign workers in Taiwan, it is sure that the basic wage will be adjusted upward.

But whether the minimum wage will be calculated by hour or by month remains to be seen.

In a recent related inter-ministerial meeting organized by the Council for Economic Planning and Development (CEPD), those who insisted on a minimum hourly pay system had an upperhand over those who maintained a minimum monthly pay system.

But Su yesterday dismissed media reports that there will be salary hikes for military personnel, civil servants, teachers and laborers.

The premier said the reports are incorrect, noting that salary hikes require an overall assessment and that he has “no set proposals, nor has he received related reports.”

After attending a seminar on Taiwan’s democratic rise under the shadow of China’s hegemony, Su said that although 2006 recorded a rare financial balance, a salary hike requires an overall assessment.

“The Cabinet has not conducted any such assessment,” he said.

As for a reasonable minimum monthly wage for laborers, which was set at NT$15,840 in 1997 and has remained unchanged for a decade, he said this will have to take into consideration national economic development.

Meanwhile, CEPD Chairwoman Ho Mei-yueh said the CEPD has not discussed salary hikes.

The head of the nation’s top economic planner reiterated that the finance or economic ministries have yet to reach conclusion on salary hikes or upward adjustments of the minimum wage.