With less than a year to go before next year’s presidential election, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government has proposed that the salaries of civil servants, military personnel and public school teachers be raised by 3 percent using a supplementary budget. Opposition legislators have strongly criticized the government, saying it launched the policy in an attempt to buy votes.
The KMT’s explanation that the government has not raised the salaries for these groups for quite a few years is intended to deceive the public. Civil servants, military personnel and school teachers get a raise of NT$800 or NT$900 per month every year based on seniority. For a low-ranking employee or an employee with low seniority with a monthly salary of NT$35,000, this equals a raise of 2.5 percent annually. In other words, these employees with a lower seniority have been given a raise of about 15 percent over the past six years.
A further comparison to the country’s minimum wage that was raised early this year shows that the minimum wage has only been raised by 3.47 percent in the four years since 2007. Because the wage was too low to begin with, the monthly wage hike of a mere NT$600 starting on Jan. 1 is an insult to local workers. The proposed 3 percent raise for civil servants, military personnel and public school teachers, once again calculated on a monthly salary of NT$35,000, equals NT$1,050. Adding that to their annual raise, the figure is nearly NT$2,000. Senior and high-ranking employees will of course receive more.
The numbers speak for themselves: A comparison between these raises of NT$2,000 or more and the NT$600 added to the minimum wage makes me angry on behalf of the “working poor.”
The KMT regime is essentially a regime for the capitalist class. When the KMT were forced by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to flee to Taiwan in 1949, the 2 million or so Mainlanders who followed the KMT and its army to Taiwan monopolized the military jobs and occupied a great portion of the positions for civil servants and school teachers. That was also the time the KMT began to lend its strong support to these groups, and many of them became the party’s long-term die-hard supporters.
The current government has on repeated occasions claimed that it is a government for all Taiwanese, but in fact it is a government for civil servants, military personnel and public school teachers. No wonder labor groups want to vent their anger. Their anger and their demands deserve our enthusiastic support.
Chi Chun-chieh is a professor at National Dong Hwa University’s Institute of Ethnic Relations.
TRANSLATED BY EDDY CHANG