The Ministry of Labor yesterday approved a 5 percent increase to the monthly minimum wage, effective Jan. 1 next year, despite business leaders largely boycotting a meeting of the Minimum Wage Review Committee and protesters demanding a greater hike.
After more than five hours of negotiations, the committee passed a resolution raising the monthly minimum wage to NT$21,009 from NT$20,008.
The minimum hourly wage is to be raised to NT$133 from NT$120 in two stages, beginning with an increase to NT$126 next month before the final hike goes into effect in January.
The hourly wage increase was made in consideration of amendments to the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法), including the implementation of a 40-hour workweek.
“This year was different, because there was no consensus on what particular method should be used to determine the rate of increase, so we ended up comprehensively considering economic growth, the consumer price index, workers’ productivity and the national dependency ratio,” Minister of Labor Kuo Fong-yu (郭芳煜) said, adding that the ministry had rejected corporate representatives’ demands to unlink the minimum pay of domestic and foreign workers.
Including foreign workers, the minimum monthly salary increase would affect 1.62 million workers, while 390,000 people would be eligible for the minimum hourly wage increase, Kuo said.
Kuo also reiterated promises that a draft minimum wage law would be presented to the Legislative Yuan by the end of the year, adding that the committee had rejected calls to provide compensation to workers affected by the delayed increase in the hourly minimum wage to reflect the implementation of the 40-hour workweek.
Yesterday’s hike was the first under the administration of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), after the committee postponed a decision in July following an earlier boycott by businesses over holiday regulations.
Government, business and labor representatives each comprise a third of the committee’s 21 members. Five of the committee’s seven corporate representatives boycotted the meeting.
“We still have to meet and hold discussions, and I hope that business and labor interests can find a ‘win-win’ [solution],” The Manufactures (sic) United General Association of Industrial Park of the ROC director Tseng Pao-hsiang (曾寶祥) said.
The committee’s decision followed a protest outside the ministry by more than 10 members of the Taiwan Higher Education Union’s Youth Action.
Members said that while corporate profits have climbed steadily since the minimum wage was introduced in 1997, employees’ salaries have remained frozen.
They called on the government to increase the minimum wage to NT$27,974 to help raise overall salary levels.
“We demand that the minimum wage be raised reasonably based on inflation and economic growth to ensure that the fruits of growth are shared equally,” member Hsieh Yi-hung (謝毅弘) said.
The group’s figure represented the level they said the minimum wage would have reached if it had been increased every year, accounting for inflation and half of each year’s rate of economic growth, a formula that the committee had used in the past.
Protesters also demanded that future increases in hourly and monthly wages be linked, as well as compensation for the government’s failure to increase the hourly minimum wage to take into account overtime calculation changes that accompanied the introduction of the 40-hour workweek this year.
The committee’s decision on the minimum wage increase is to be sent to the Cabinet for approval.
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