Gov­ern­ment not now ready to grant fur­ther wage in­crease: Deng


La­bor and civil groups yesterday staged a protest de­mand­ing that the min­i­mum monthly wage be raised to NT$26,000, while the Eco­nom­ics Min­istry held firm on its stance against an in­crease.

“Low wages are the shame of the na­tion,” la­bor rights ac­tivists shouted in front of the La­bor Min­istry, ask­ing busi­ness and in­dus­trial as­so­ci­a­tions to lis­ten to their views. In ad­di­tion to their bid for a monthly wage in­crease, they also de­manded a min­i­mum NT$161 hourly wage.

Chen Shang- chih ( ), a po­lit­i­cal science as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor at Na­tional Chung Cheng Univer­sity who par­tic­i­pated in the demon­stra­tion, said that over 70 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion re­ceived less than NT$40,000 in salary, and over 40 per­cent re­ceived less than NT$30,000.

“The youth’s poverty and low earn­ings bear a di­rect re­la­tion­ship to our ex­ceed­ingly low min­i­mum wage,” Chen said.

Tsai Lian-sheng ( ), sec­re­tary gen­eral of the Chi­nese Na­tional Fed­er­a­tion of In­dus­tries (

), con­tends that rais­ing the min­i­mum wage will do noth­ing to in­crease wage lev­els, how­ever.

Only for­eign la­bor­ers re­ceive min­i­mum wages, Tsai said, adding that “rais­ing the min­i­mum wage will be a detri­ment to the in­vest­ment en­vi­ron­ment of Tai­wan and force com­pa­nies to re­lo­cate over­seas.” Tai­wan’s la­bor force and econ­omy will get hurt as a re­sult, he ar­gued.

Busi­ness and In­dus­trial Groups

Har­den Their At­ti­tude

The la­bor demon­stra­tion was held be­fore the start of yesterday’s min­i­mum wage re­view meet­ing con­vened by the gov­ern­ment. The agenda is to de­lib­er­ate a wage in­crease ef­fec­tive July next year.

The wage floor was just in­creased to NT$20,008 per month and NT$120 per hour in July.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from both la­bor and in­dus­trial groups par­tic­i­pated in the meet­ing yesterday, re­view­ing eco­nomic fig­ures over the past year while de­bat­ing over the wage in­crease.

A for­mula that takes the GDP and con­sumer price in­dex into ac­count has been used by the gov­ern­ment to com­pute an ap­pro­pri­ate range for a wage in­crease. Based on the for­mula, the na­tion’s la­bor­ers should en­joy a 1.5-per­cent wage hike.

How­ever, given the re­cent eco­nomic slow­down, in­dus­trial and busi­ness groups have hard­ened their at­ti­tude on the is­sue, say­ing that it is not the ap­pro­pri­ate time to ad­just wage lev­els.

Eco­nom­ics Min­is­ter John Deng ( ) said on Tues­day that busi­nesses have clearly ex­pressed that the eco­nomic out­look is not promis­ing, and along with lit­tle price level fluc­tu­a­tions, it is not the right time to make wage level ad­just­ments.

The Min­istry of La­bor said that given a 2.95-per­cent GDP in­crease av­er­aged over the past four quar­ters, the la­bor force should be al­lowed to share in the eco­nomic ben­e­fit.

How­ever, the na­tion also suf­fered some eco­nomic woes this year, such as a sub­stan­dard 0.64-per­cent growth in the sec­ond quar­ter and seven con­sec­u­tive months of ex­port declines.

A hike in salaries now may make busi­ness oper­a­tions even more chal­leng­ing for com­pa­nies, the Min­istry of La­bor said.

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