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Wage-earners suffer the most when firms end up in the red

Dr. Sun Yat-sen, who was used to disappointments during his lifetime, may not have turned in his grave when the Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) Minister Wang Ju-hsuan (王如玄) tendered her resignation on Sept. 26 after her heroic attempt to tip the balance slightly in favor of the underprivileged met with the disapproval of her superiors. Dr. Sun, however, would likely have been disappointed because an equitable distribution of wealth, as a goal enshrined in his Three People's Principle, has proven to be elusive despite the fact that the political party he established, the Kuomintang (KMT), is in power.

Perhaps one cannot blame the KMT alone because political parties are in power everywhere and yet an equitable distribution of wealth is nowhere to be found, not even in the “socialist” Chinese mainland, where the powers that be only give lip service to the Marxist principle “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.”

Wang was ostensibly not told to leave, but was more or less given a vote of no confidence when she was notified that the Executive Yuan, as the Cabinet is called in Taiwan, decided not to adjust the minimum wage as the CLA proposed. Incidentally, about a week before Wang's departure, Premier Sean Chen, Wang's immediate boss, survived a no-confidence vote on Sept. 22. Wang's proposal, announced on Aug. 9, called for a 1.42-percent increase in the country's minimum monthly wage from NT$18,780 (US$626) to NT$19,407 in 2013.

The basic hourly wage will be adjusted from the current NT$103 (US$3.52) to NT$109 (US$3.72) beginning Jan. 1, 2013, and further increased to at least NT$115 (US$3.92) starting Jan. 1, 2014, if there are no major changes in the domestic and global economies, Wang said when she announced her proposal.

She made the announcement after academics and representatives of labor, management and government reached a consensus in a five-hour committee meeting earlier in the day. The committee, established in 2007, meets annually to review minimum pay levels, according to a report in Taiwan Today, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs online publication.

“The purpose of setting minimum wages is to ensure laborers' basic standard of living,” Wang was quoted as saying. “The pay hike reflects the country's consumer price index and was decided on after taking the current economic and social situations into consideration,” she explained.

1 Comment
September 30, 2012    lifeofpi@
"Labor costs in Japan are much higher than in Taiwan and mainland China and yet Japan is one of the world's foremost economies. Let's find something else to blame the next time our companies are not profitable."

Is the writer not familiar with the current Japanese economic situation? This is a poorly researched example.
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