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.