Labor groups demand minimum wage rise
Labor and other civic groups in Taiwan demanded a large increase in the country’s minimum wage level Tuesday and urged the Ministry of Labor to live stream its upcoming minimum wage review meeting on the Internet so that the public can monitor its discussions.
“We specifically demand that the minimum wage level this year be adjusted to NT$26,000 (US$810) per month and NT$161 per hour,” Taiwan Labour Front Secretary-General Son Yu liam told reporters.
He said the figures were calculated based on international standards and is an amount that the groups believe can sustain basic living in Taiwan.
Taiwan’s minimum wage was most recently adjusted July 1, when it was raised by 3.81 percent to NT$20,008. The minimum hourly wage was also increased to NT$120.
Asked if NT$26,000 is a realistic figure, Son said it is a “reasonable” one.
The Ministry of Labor’s minimum wage review committee is scheduled to meet Wednesday to discuss the possibility of a further 1.5 percent minimum wage hike.
In response, Son said that a 1.5 percent increase is unacceptable and that if it is the final outcome, he urged laborers to give the ruling party a “slap in the face” in the general election five months from now.
According to a recent article by the Economic Daily News, Chinese National Federation of Industries Chairman Rock Hsu criticized a minimum wage hike at this time as irrational, given the current economic slowdown, and said it would harm Taiwan’s small- and medium-sized enterprises.
Hsu cited Taiwan’s declining exports and their adverse effects on earnings as factors that suggest now is not the right time for a minimum wage adjustment.
In response to concerns from business groups, opposition Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Cheng Li-chiun, said the government should approach economic development with a new mindset.
Raising the minimum wage can boost domestic demand, reduce Taiwan’s reliance on exports, and spur industrial upgrading, said Cheng, who is also chief executive of the Youth Synergy Taiwan Foundation.
“We demand that the review committee be open and transparent and stream their meeting online so that the public can participate in and monitor (the meeting),” Cheng said.
Student volunteers of the Taiwan Labour Front perform a skit highlighting corporate pressure in the wage adjustment issue. The Ministry of Labor will hold talks tomorrow with industrial and corporate representatives tomorrow on how much to adjust the minimum wage. Panelists recommended the hourly minimum be raised to NT$161 (approximately NT$26,000 a month) and that the discussions tomorrow be broadcast to the public.