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Minimum wage increase is possible: premier

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) yesterday during an interpellation at the Legislative Yuan said that he does not rule out the possibility to raise the minimum wage to NT$20,000, stressing that, however, it is the Basic Wage Deliberation Committee's (BWDC) right to adjust the amount of minimum wage.

The premier further explained that he does not mean the 2015 minimum wage would definitely rise, noting that he cannot predict the committee's final decision over the issue, and the Executive Yuan will respect whatever the BWDC decides.

Currently, the amount of minimum wage stipulated by the Executive Yuan stands at NT$19,273.

Following Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) and Taichung Mayor Jason Hu's (胡志強) declarations to raise the monthly minimum wage to NT$22,639 for employees working for the city governments, New Taipei Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) yesterday announced that female citizens could enjoy five day offs for prenatal examinations.

The New Taipei City Government yesterday approved the proposed bill of the policy, noting that after the city council passes the bill and submits it to the Executive Yuan for deliberation, the policy would be carried out before the end of the year.

Hau on the other hand, on Monday told local media that he agrees with Taipei City Department of Labor Commissioner Chen Yeh-hsin's (陳業鑫) recent remarks, saying that it is a “national humiliation” that the wages are so low.

Hau further said that raising the minimum wage is an efficient way to boost the country's economy, noting that he hopes the government will “lead” local private-sector businesses to increase employees' salaries.

Premier's Response to Taipei Mayor

In response to Hau's remarks, Premier Jiang yesterday told reporters before attending an interpellation at the Legislative Yuan that people should contribute practical ideas and speak with the government if they are concerned about the minimum wage issue.

Jiang went on to say that industrial transformation and being a part of regional economic zones are the keys to solving the slow increase of wages in Taiwan, stressing that the minimum wage could rise only when the country's competitiveness strengthens.

The premier further explained that the industrial transformation process would raise minimum wages and increase job opportunities, noting that he welcomes experts from various sectors to offer opinions for solving the wage issue.

Labor Minister Pan Shih-wei (潘世偉) responded to the issue during the interpellation by saying that the Ministry of Labor (MOL) is currently reviewing ways to encourage private enterprises to increase wages for their employees.

As an example, Pan said the MOL is considering subcontracting out government projects to companies that are willing to increase their employees' salaries and to improve working environments.

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