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June 23, 2017

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Labor groups slam current minimum wage as 'outrageously low'

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Labor groups yesterday slammed the government for keeping the minimum monthly wages under NT$23,500 as recent wage hikes were not enough to keep up with labor productivity and the increasing earnings per share (EPS) of the nation's companies.

Despite the minimum wage hikes that have been implemented in recent years, the current minimum wage of NT$19,273 makes it difficult for the workforce to catch up with labor productivity and the continuously escalating EPS, said the labor group protestors. "Having wages under NT$23,500 is like killing the chicken to take its golden eggs."

Various labor groups including the National Federation of Independent Trade Unions (NFITU) have demanded to raise the minimum wage to NT$23,754 per month, and for hourly wages to be increased from NT$115 to NT$138.

Reports from local media outlets have indicated that newly appointed Labor Minister Chen Hsiung-wen (陳雄文) supported the raising of the minimum wage on a gradual basis, so that the nation's economic growth would not be affected drastically.

Chen responded to the protesters yesterday, saying that the development of local industries may be stunted if the government issues a wage hike that is too large. "Raising the wages like that would only kill the chicken that lays the eggs, and one would be left with nothing," said Chen.

Although the labor productivity has been increasing steadily and reached 3.5 percent for the past decade, the labor cost investments of local enterprises have dropped due to the frozen minimum wages, the labor groups pointed out. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics released statistics that too indicated a gradual decrease in Taiwan's labor costs over the past 20 years, and nearly 3.6 million Taiwanese employees have reported that their monthly salaries were less than NT$30,000, NFITU added.

The minimum wage should be raised to NT$23,500 and the Labor Standards Act and minimum wages should apply to local as well as foreign laborers, said NFITU.

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