A labor rights group said yesterday that it is an international standard to have the same minimum wage for foreign and domestic workers, and this should not be changed in Taiwan.
Taiwan Confederation of Trade Unions secretary-general Hsieh Chuang-chih (謝創智) called for industrial and commercial leaders not to distort the focus of a minimum wage campaign by stirring fears of higher foreign labor costs and the possible effects on economic growth.
The minimum wage is a criterion used to assess whether wage earners can live with dignity at a basic level, he said.
Despite Taiwan’s economic growth, its minimum wage has been raised only twice over the past 13 years, he said.
This indicates that the fruits of economic growth have been enjoyed only by a few people and it is one of the reasons why the wealth gap is widening, he said.
Labor rights groups have proposed that the minimum wage should be increased from NT$17,280 (US$542) per month to NT$22,000 to help narrow the wealth gap.
A Council of Labor Affairs committee responsible for reviewing the minimum wage is scheduled to hold a meeting on Sept. 13, during which labor, management and government officials will discuss whether to raise the minimum wage.
However, in a joint statement issued on Friday, the leaders of Taiwan’s six major industrial and commercial organizations called for less government interference in the minimum wage issue.
They argued that wages should be decided by market mechanisms and should not be subject to intervention.
As the minimum wage requirement also applies to foreign workers in Taiwan, raising the wage level would result in higher foreign labor costs, the industry leaders said.
Council of Labor Affairs Minister Jennifer Wang (王如玄), who has said on many occasions before that she will quit her job if a different minimum wage is set for foreign and domestic workers, stressed on Saturday that the council will remain open and impartial on the issue.
Vice Premier Sean Chen (陳冲) said on Saturday that the Cabinet will respect whatever decision the labor council reaches on the issue.
At present, some 1.2 million workers in Taiwan, including 170,000 foreign laborers, are being paid the minimum wage of NT$17,280 per month.
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