Mon, Jun 10, 2019 - Page 6 News List

EDITORIAL: Salary data to put pressure on firms

The Taiwan Stock Exchange (TWSE) recently released the average annual wage last year — including base salary, overtime pay, bonus and remuneration — of employees at publicly listed companies on the main board. The highest average was 19 times bigger than the lowest, and the average in the electronics industry was far better than in the hospitality industry.

As all listed companies are required by the Financial Supervisory Commission to disclose the average wage of their non-managerial employees by the end of this month, the salary situation of grassroots-level employees is to be revealed, and it is expected to add more pressure on listed companies in terms of employee benefits and corporate governance.

Based on the statistics released on May 31, Foxconn Technology Co employees enjoyed the highest average annual wage of NT$5.96 million (US$189,688) last year, while employees of retail conglomerate Mercuries & Associates Holding ranked second-highest with NT$4.45 million. Chemical material manufacturer and wind farm developer Swancor Holding Co came in third with NT$3.61 million.

Renowned companies such as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co, MediaTek and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co posted average annual wages of NT$3.23 million, NT$2.72 million and NT$2 million respectively.

In comparison, those working at Taiwan Sanyo Electric Co took in just NT$314,000 on average, the lowest among the 857 listed companies on the main board. Other companies listed on the TWSE that also reported annual wages below NT$400,000 included electronics retailer Tsann Kuen Enterprise Co, karaoke chain Holiday Entertainment Co, National Petroleum Corp, hotel operator Chateau International Development Co and animal feed supplier Shin Tai Industry Co.

In general, the salaries of employees in the service industry, including the distribution, hospitality and restaurant sectors, were generally lower than those in the manufacturing, technology and banking industries.

Explanations for the phenomenon vary. One is that first-time jobseekers in the service industry have been reluctant to ask for higher salaries amid long-term wage stagnation. Another is that service-oriented sectors require lower academic qualifications, and the higher proportion of employees who do not have college degrees drags down average salaries.

Other possible explanations, as suggested by several surveys, include structural factors that give rise to low-pay, atypical employment — such as contract, temporary and dispatch work — and companies hiring more hourly employees to lower personnel costs.

The issue of low wages has long been a source of complaint, even though the government has raised the salary for public employees and raised the minimum monthly pay and hourly wage.

While the government has also increased some types of individual income tax deductions to ease people’s tax burdens, the key issue remains: How can the government alleviate Taiwan’s low salary problem and income inequality?

The TWSE’s upcoming disclosure of the listed companies’ average annual salary of non-managerial employees will show if executives are being highly paid at the expense of grassroots employees. Such statistics will show whether companies have treated their employees badly even though they have continued to post increased earnings.

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