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June 24, 2017

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Employers' reps snub minimum wage meeting

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Ministry of Labor (MOL) yesterday announced that five employers' representatives, one labor representative and one academic expert will not be participating in a committee meeting to deliberate changes to current minimum wage guidelines.

Reports indicate that discontent is brewing among the employers' representatives of the Basic Wage Deliberation Committee, as the Executive Yuan overturned last year's consensus that motions to change the minimum wage will only be considered if the consumer price index rises by 3 percent or more per year. As a result, four of the seven employer-side representatives have given notice of their intended absence at the committee meeting today, while three are likely to walk out of the meeting in protest.

Liu Chuan-min (劉傳名), Department of Labor Standards and Equal Employment director-general, MOL, noted that among the seven employer-side representatives, the General Chamber of Commerce, R.O.C. (全國商業總會), the Taiwan Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers' Association (電機電子工業同業公會), the Manufactures United General Association of Industrial Park of R.O.C. (工業區廠商聯合總會) and the National Association of Small & Medium Enterprises (全國中小企業總會) have confirmed that delegates will attend today's meeting, while the Taiwan Federation of Industry (工業協進會) gave notice that their representatives will not be attending the event.

Meanwhile, reports indicate that newly appointed Labor Minister Chen Hsiung-wen (陳雄文) expressed his support for raising the minimum wage gradually without hampering the nation's economic growth.

The minimum wage is currently set at NT$19,723 per month, with various labor groups demanding the figure to be raised to NT$23,754 with hourly wages at NT$143, and NT$23,151, with hourly wages rising to NT$138.

Labor relations commentators noted that the new Labor Minister's support for raising the minimum wage is backed by government findings. Data on the Executive Yuan's watchlist of 17 vital household goods show that prices have risen by 5.18 percent over the first seven months of this year. In addition, the Ministry of the Interior recently raised the minimum monthly subsistence expense by 6 percent to reach NT$10,869. Based on these developments, it is likely that the minimum wage will be raised by 5 to 6 percent, a not insignificant margin that would guarantee a monthly salary of at least NT$20,000.

Commentators noted that the committee is capable of completing the minimum wage adjustment without the participation of employers' representatives, who have been skirting the issue. However, such an outcome would break long-established conventions in labor relations.

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