Labor activists yesterday said they would hold a protest at the Council of Labor Affairs to express support for a hike in the minimum wage as the council holds talks on the matter today.
Activists said they were aiming for an increase to at least NT$22,115 per month from the current NT$17,280.
The biggest difference between this year’s talks and previous years is that the council has decreased the proportion of government representation on the committee. A third of the 21 committee members will represent labor, while a third will represent business and the rest will be government officials and academics.
However, as the list of committee members was released only a week ago, labor groups said they were in a hurry to coordinate efforts and come up with a negotiation strategy.
Taiwan Confederation of Trade Unions secretary-general Hsieh Chuang-chih (謝創智) said the issue of whether to adjust the minimum wage had become a humanitarian issue, as the lower-paid workers are barely getting by while those at the top reap the benefits of economic growth.
The Directorate-General of Budgeting, Accounting and Statistics said on Aug. 19 that the annual average disposable income of the top 20 percent of income-earning households was 6.34 times that of the bottom 20 percent last year, the largest rich-poor gap since 2001.
About 1.2 million workers, including 170,000 foreign workers, now receive the minimum wage of NT$17,280 per month.
“Labor groups are confident that the minimum wage will be increased because the economy has gradually revived and many companies have expanded their hiring plans,” Hsieh said.
The secretary-general said many countries recently increased minimum wages, including South Korea, the US, Japan and China.
However, many still worry that the minimum wage will only be increased by 4 percent or 5 percent to account for the increase in the consumer price index.
Minor adjustments to the minimum wage, which was last adjusted in 2007, would not provide much benefit to workers, Hsieh said.
Labor groups arrived at the proposed figure of NT$22,115 by calculating factors including the amount that the average person in Taiwan spends per month and the average number of dependents for each worker.
“[A monthly wage of] NT$22,115 is the minimum wage level for workers to lead a life with dignity,” said Hsieh, adding that while business groups may have only the bottom line in mind, they should recognize the importance of social responsibility.
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