The Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) yesterday proposed that the minimum wage should be increased next year, starting with the hourly rate.
The council’s minimum wage review committee recommended that the hourly wage be increased from NT$109 (US$3.6) to NT$115 starting on Jan. 1.
This should be followed by an increase in the minimum monthly wage to NT$19,273, from NT$19,047, effective on July 1 next year, it said.
The proposals have to be approved by the Cabinet before they can be implemented.
However, the proposed increases come with a condition: The committee will not hold another wage review meeting until cumulative annual growth in the consumer price index (CPI) reaches 3 percent or higher, CLA Minister Pan Shih-wei (潘世偉) said.
Labor groups slammed the condition, saying that based on historical data, it would take at least two years for cumulative CPI growth to reach 3 percent or higher, which means the wage review committee would not likely be summoned for another meeting for three years.
Pan said in response that it is a decision that has to be made in the future and the council cannot answer theoretical questions.
The council estimated that more than 1.76 million workers, including 240,000 foreign laborers, would benefit from the wage adjustment plan next year, while public and private employers would see an annual increase of about NT$3.7 billion in expenditure (including wages and insurance payments).
Taiwan Labor Front said the proposed wage increase would not alleviate the pressure on workers at all, especially with the planned electricity rate hike in October potentially pushing prices of everyday goods higher.
The group also questioned the legitimacy of the council’s decision to not convene the minimum wage review committee unless CPI growth reaches or exceeds 3 percent.
The legal basis for the committee stems from the Regulations for the Deliberation of Basic Wage (基本工資審議辦法), which states: “The minimum wage review committee should on principle convene in the third quarter of every year to review wages,” the group said.
National Taiwan University student union secretary-general Kenny Lin (林凱衡) said that more than 1.2 million Taiwanese workers — predominantly younger workers — only receive a monthly income of NT$20,000 to NT$25,000.
“This is a problem President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration must resolve, and the first step to resolving such a situation is to raise the minimum wage,” he said.
Additional reporting by Lee Yu-hsin