Unions protest over minimum wage
CNATAIPEI--Labor unions staged a protest in Taipei yesterday to reiterate their calls for a minimum wage increase, as the Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) prepared to review the issue at a special committee meeting.
August 10, 2012, 12:51 am TWN
An executive of the Taiwan Confederation of Trade Unions said the minimum monthly wage should be increased from NT$18,780 (US$628) to NT$23,151 and hourly wage from NT$103 to NT$127 to “protect the basic living standards of workers.”
However the unions are worried that in the current weak economy, only the hourly minimum wage would be considered for an increase, the executive said.
The unions are therefore advocating that the hourly and monthly wages should not be considered separately in the review of the issue, he said at the protest in front of the CLA before the wage review committee convened.
A comparison with other countries shows that the minimum hourly wage in 2011 was the equivalent of NT$279.7 in Japan, NT$108.5 in Hong Kong, NT$217.8 in the United States, NT$306.7 in Canada, and NT$121 in South Korea, the unions pointed out.
But business representatives argued that it is not a good time to raise the minimum wage in Taiwan.
Tsai Suei, a supervisor at the Chinese National Federation of Industries, said the economic outlook is not good this year and Taiwanese businesses are having a hard time competing internationally.
“This is not the time to increase the minimum wage, although there is some room for discussion on an increase of the hourly wage,” Tsai said.
Wang Ying-chieh, a senior executive at the General Chamber of Commerce, also argued against a wage hike, saying the government should create a favorable investment environment in the interest of workers and businesses.
A wage hike at this time would dampen interest in investment, which in turn will be bad for overall economic development, Wang said. He said the business sector reluctantly supported the CLA's decision to raise the minimum wage last year.
This year, Labor Minister Wang Ju-hsuan has repeatedly mentioned President Ma Ying-jeou's election campaign promise to hike the minimum hourly to NT$115, he noted.
“The government should make a decision based on the overall economic situation rather on campaign promises,” Wang said.
The minimum wage applies not just to local workers but also foreign labor and therefore should not be raised, he said.