Minimum wage to exceed NT$20,000

By Ted Chen ,The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Labor and employers’ representatives arrived at a consensus to raise the monthly minimum wage by NT$735 to reach NT$20,008, while the minimum hourly wages will be raised from NT$115 to NT$120, effective July next year. About 1.5 million local workers and 300,000 migrant workers could benefit from this change.

Following a grueling four-hour session, representatives agreed to raise the monthly minimum wage from the current NT$19,273 to NT$20,008. The 3.81-percent hike in the minimum wage is the highest change seen in three years.

A 2013 decision by the committee raised Taiwan’s minimum wage from 2012’s NT$19,047 to this year’s NT$19,273. Labor representatives, however, were vastly unsatisfied with the paltry adjustment of NT$226 per month, with many civic organizations stating that the added pay can only purchase a single egg daily.

Reports indicate that amid rising public outcry over Taiwan’s stagnant wage growth, Premier Jiang Yi-huah had instructed the minimum wage assessment committee to reconvene to explore further adjustments based on the fact that the food product consumer price index surged by 4.27 percent over the first seven months of this year.

Following the decision, an Executive Yuan spokesperson stated that the premier is pleased to see that the opposing negotiators were able to arrive at a consensus.

Second Time’s a Charm On Monday, employers’ representatives staged a boycott over the first minimum wage adjustment committee meeting, in protest of the Executive Yuan’s promise to refrain from initiating changes unless the consumer price index of household goods rose more than 3 percent, and because they were not given adequate notice ahead of the meeting.

In a bid to prevent a continued boycott that may lead to stalemates in negotiations, the labor minister on Wednesday personally visited a number of employers’ representatives and convinced them to participate in the second meeting yesterday.

Minimum Wage Hike Inadequate: Taiwan Labor Front The Taiwan Labor Front (勞工陣線) stated that in light of the three-decade-long struggle since the establishment of the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法), the paltry gain in the minimum wage is grossly inadequate and representative of Taiwan’s repressive environment for workers. The Taiwan Labor Front had demanded that the minimum wage be raised to at least NT$23,745, and stated that the organization is greatly disappointed by the NT$3,737 shortfall.

The organization noted that the recent adjustment violates the International Labour Organization’s guideline that the minimum wage must be able to cover the costs of basic living expenses and provide for dependents, adding that it will mobilize its members to stage demonstrations. Taiwan Labor Front Secretary-General Sun Yo-lien (孫友聯) stated that the organization will continue to push for the establishment of formulas to serve as reference to future minimum wage adjustments to preserve the interest of Taiwan’s laborers.

Meanwhile, Lin Bo-feng (林伯豐), chairman of the Chinese National Association of Industry and Commerce (工商協進會), stated that a NT$500 increase to the minimum wage would cost businesses NT$10 billion in payroll expenses, with NT$7 billion to NT$8 billion going into the pockets of migrant workers, and the minimum wage should be abolished.