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Ministry mulling regionally based minimum wages

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Minister of Labor Pan Shih-wei (潘世偉) yesterday announced that experts will be called in to discuss the feasibility of devising varied guidelines for the minimum wage based on each geographical district of Taiwan.

Pan aims to establish a basis of reference for future adjustments to the minimum wage for each region to gauge the degree of change required to keep up with differences in cost of living throughout Taiwan.

Currently, guidelines dictate that the minimum wage remain homogenous throughout Taiwan, a condition that many governing bodies wish to remedy, said Pan. Pan stated that while northern Taiwan wishes to raise the minimum wage, this sentiment may not be shared by employers residing in southern Taiwan.

Meanwhile, the Council of Labor Affairs ruled in 2010 that the workforce in Taiwan is too small to warrant segregated minimum wage guidelines.

Amid rising costs of living and stagnating wages, a disparity in income remains between northern and southern Taiwan. In addressing the current woes of Taiwanese laborers, Pan stated that the ministry will forge ahead with last year's decision to raise the monthly minimum wage to NT$19,273 which will take effect on July 1. Pan however, stated that a minimum wage hike for southern Taiwan remains unlikely due to the relatively lower costs of living for the region, while increases in the north are of a higher possibility.

Taipei City Mayor Hau Lung-bin yesterday reiterated his call to decouple minimum wage adjustments from costs of living indicators requiring a 3-percent rise in the consumer price index to take effect. Hau suggested that the hourly wages be raised to NT$133, and minimum monthly wages be raised to NT$22,639, the same terms that have been offered to Taipei City Government employees since the beginning of this Month.

Scholars and experts yesterday lauded the initiative, stating that a geographically segregated minimum wage model is currently employed in the U.S., South Korea and Japan, while industry associations feared that Pan would face scathing criticism for the bold initiative.

May 8, 2014    curtisakbar@
This will just further increase the gap between the Taipei-Kaohsiung areas and the rest of the country. A bad idea, as youths will move away into the big cities and the smaller ones like Taidong, Hualian, Nantou etc. will rot away.
May 9, 2014    jimdandy@
Why would they move away to get a higher wage, but higher living costs? That would not make much sense.
Under the current one-size-fits-all minimum wage workers in a city like Tainan are getting a premium wage, given that their living costs are much lower than Taipei. Has Taipei bled workers to Tainan and other areas and been left a ghost town due to this relative difference?
May 11, 2014    taipeir2001@
This is a terrible idea, creating a two tier country and society. All citizens of Taiwan should be treated equally.
May 15, 2014    curtisakbar@
Jim don't be fooled, the cost of living between the cities isn't that much. You go to 7-11 anywhere in the country and a bottle of beer is 55NT.

The difference is rent, but prices aren't that major. Yes, rent is cheaper in Tainan but generally the buildings are older and have less amenities (gas mains). The east district in Tainan has rent that is just the same and even more expensive than some areas in Taipei. So are the costs really lower?

You also have to remember, Taipei and Kaohsiung are job creating cities, the financial hubs. That is why the current trend in Taiwan is for people to move to these cities to look for work. Strange that Taipei has one of the lowest birth rates on the island but the population keeps increasing.
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