Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) said the nation’s workers have had “hidden yet substantial” increases in salary after the government reduced working hours and increased employers’ contributions to the labor pension fund.
Jiang made the comments during a discussion between President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and seven Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislators on Thursday night.
Presidential Office spokesperson Lee Chia-fei (李佳霏) said legislators had expressed their views on the nation’s housing policy, Internet service rates and workers’ salaries during the discussion. Some had brought up the fact that wages have fallen to the level of 16 years ago.
In response, Jiang said that one should not simply look at the figures on paychecks and conclude that there have been no increases in salary. He said that the government reduced working hours from 48 hours per week to 84 hours every two weeks. The reduced working hours are equivalent to a pay raise of 12.5 percent, he said.
Jiang further noted that the nation adopted a new labor pension scheme in 2005 in which employers are required to allocate funds equivalent to 6 percent of a worker’s salary every month into the employee’s pension fund account. Previously, employers were only required to allocate 2 percent, he said.
Aside from these “hidden yet substantial” increases, Jiang said that the government would try to raise the minimum wage and boost employment rates.
Sun Yu-lien (孫友聯), secretary general of the Taiwan Labor Front, said that he was surprised by Jiang’s comments, adding that he may have been joking to alleviate the tension caused by the political strife between Ma and Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平).
He also saw it as ironic that the two examples Jiang cited were products of the previous Democratic Progressive Party administration.
That Jiang used reduced working hours as evidence of pay increases showed that the premier is using “old-school” thought, Sun said.
“Reduced working hours help increase workers’ productivity, not increase wages,” Sun said.
Sun also said that many companies do not enforce the pension fund requirement, even though they are legally obligated to do so.
“Some even use the pension fund requirement as an excuse to not increase wages,” he said.
Sun added that labor in Taiwan was highly undervalued.
To raise the minimum wage, Sun suggested that the government reform regulations on corporate governance, in which corporations are required to make their financial situation more transparent.
“Some corporations are making money, but they are unwilling to share the profits with their employees,” he said.