Tue, Jan 05, 2010 - Page 3 News List

CLA apologizes for missing target for unemployment rate

By Shelley Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) Minister Jennifer Wang (王如玄) yesterday apologized more than once for not being able to keep a promise that last year’s unemployment rate would be below 4.5 percent.

Wang vowed to make important changes this year, including reducing the role of council officials in influencing minimum wage adjustments.

About a year ago, Wang vowed to keep the year’s annual unemployment rate at below 4.5 percent. However, last year unemployment reached as high as 6 percent.

The most recent numbers showed November’s jobless rate at 5.86 percent, far from the targets promised to the country’s workforce.

Answering reporters’ questions yesterday, Wang repeatedly apologized for not achieving the goal.

“We did everything we could. We used other countries’ methods as a reference. We gathered as much information as we could. But this is the best we could do,” she said.

Wang said that because the Council for Economic Planning and Development has set a goal of keeping this year’s jobless rate below 4.9 percent, the council would do everything in its power and work with other government agencies to achieve this goal.

Wang also said there would be changes to the way the minimum wage is determined.

The council recently invited experts at National Central University to research and evaluate methods to set the minimum wage. After the report is completed in March, the annual minimum wage adjustment committee will probably be composed of representatives from labor groups, business groups and academics — each controlling one-third of the seats — the council said.

The CLA said it was considering this structure because in the past, the council had been criticized for giving its own officials a majority of the committee seats.

Critics said the committee’s annual decision was essentially the council’s opinion, while the non-governmental representatives and experts on the panel were used to give some legitimacy to the process.

Although it is possible that this year’s committee meeting in July will be conducted with minimal governmental participation, Wang said the council had yet to decide which academic candidates could justly represent the interests of both labor and business groups.

Wang also said it had not been decided whether the committee would have the power to directly adjust the minimum wage.

Current laws stipulate that the committee’s decision must be approved by the Executive Yuan before it takes effect.

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