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June 23, 2017

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Gov't aims to ensure dignity of labor: Ma

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- President Ma Ying-jeou said yesterday that the administration is working to improve Taiwan's work environment and although the administration cannot say that it has fully achieved its goal of ensuring dignity of labor, it is, however, making gradual progress toward that goal.

The Kuomintang (KMT) yesterday held its weekly Central Standing Committee meeting in which Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) Minister Pan Shih-wei (潘世偉) gave a report on the council's performance and outlook.

The CLA will be upgraded to a ministry next week, while it has been confirmed that Pan will be heading the ministry after the reorganization.

After hearing the minister's report, Ma said that he proposed the concept of ensuring dignity of labor roughly seven years ago during his presidential campaign, a concept that he has been pursuing since he was mayor of Taipei.

The president explained that the concept covers welfare programs apart from traditional labor rights.

Ma said that shortly after he took office, the administration established annuity programs, which was a significant step toward helping the elderly.

Another popular policy has been the establishment labor rights funds, which provide money for laborers who bring their employers to court over fraudulent bankruptcy cases, the president said.

Another policy that has yielded substantial results has been the establishment of parental subsidies, allowing mothers and fathers to take six months off from work to take care of their infants and receive 60 percent of their salaries, Ma said, adding that when the policy was proposed, a lot of people were skeptical about its feasibility.

However, more than 219,000 parents have benefited from this policy, the president said, adding that the subsidies have totaled NT$19.2 billion.

A majority of these parents are employees of small- and medium-sized enterprises, with civil servants accounting for less than 2 percent of that number, Ma said.

According to a study conducted by the World Bank, Taiwan is the only place in the Asia-Pacific region that provides parental leave for both parents, the president said.

The administration has created more than 620,000 job opportunities in roughly six years' time, Ma said.

Taiwan's vocational education and training system is one of the best in Southeast Asia, Ma said, adding that Vietnam, Thailand, India and Indonesia send their teachers to Taiwan on government-financed scholarships for further study and training, Ma said, adding that these are indications of how Taiwan's vocational education and training is regarded.

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