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CLA official defends basic labor pay hike

A top official with the Cabinet-level Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) yesterday defended its recent proposal to hike the basic monthly wage to NT$19,047 and raise hourly pay to NT$109 starting in 2013.

The proposed hike is designed to enrich the lives of marginal workers without undermining the competitiveness of local enterprises, the CLA said.

Pan Shih-wei, vice minister of the CLA, said that the council, based on Article 21 of the Labor Standards Law, invited representatives from the labor, management, government and academic sectors to discuss the issue of raising the minimum monthly and hourly wages in early August. After thorough discussions, the four parties reached a consensus to hike basic monthly pay to NT$19,047 from NT$18,780 and raise minimum hourly pay to NT$109 from NT$103, which would be put into practice after being approved by the government.

Pan said none of the representatives of the said four sectors were satisfied with the proposal, however all finally accepted it.

Pan made the remarks after Kuan Chung-ming, a minister without portfolio, publicly voiced strong opposition to the proposed hike to basic labor wages. Kuan told media now that the nation's economy is facing difficult times, it's not suitable for the government to raise basic monthly pay as it will increase the financial burden on enterprises and make it difficult for them to secure viable operations.

In addition, industrial leaders have repeatedly expressed to the Presidential Office and the Cabinet their opposition to the proposed wage hikes, and Premier Sean Chen has reportedly taken a conservative attitude toward ratifying the proposal after consulting several economic and financial officials.

As a result, Premier Chen has yet to approve the proposal although the proposal was sent to the Cabinet two weeks ago, triggering speculations that the proposal may be dropped.

In response to the speculation, government spokesman Hu Yu-wei said that the proposal is still being deliberated by ministers without portfolio, and will be sent to the premier for final approval after discussions are completed.

In related news, members of the Taiwan Confederation of Trade Unions lashed out at Kuan for violating the established practice of carrying out annual reviews of the basic labor wages and for his strong efforts to bring down labor costs for enterprises.

The confederation will soon move to stage protests against the Cabinet's delay in approving the proposed hikes.

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