Mon, Apr 30, 2012 - Page 2 News List

Low pay-to-effort ratio taking a toll: poll

WORKING STIFFS:Long overtime hours, low salaries, no pay raises, increasing energy costs and unaffordable real estate are leading to depression, ill health and no savings

By Hsieh Wen-hua  /  Staff reporter

The low pay-to-effort ratio and the government’s recent announcement of fuel and electricity price increases have taken a toll on employees’ savings, mental state and physical condition, a survey showed yesterday.

A poll by Yes123 Job Bank, titled the “Three Lows in the Workplace” — referring to employees with low savings, low mental states and low health indices — collected 974 samples between the age of 20 and 45 to gauge employees’ economic, mental and physical well-being.

About 71 percent of respondents said their monthly income was below NT$35,000, while 38 percent said they had to work two hours of overtime each day.

Nearly 52 percent of respondents said they had never had a salary increase in their current jobs and said they believed they deserved a raise of more than NT$9,000 per month based on their work performance.

The poll also found that 56 percent of respondents only had savings of less than NT$50,000, while 26 percent said they had no savings and lived from paycheck to paycheck.

When asked to comment on their physical condition, respondents gave their health ratings an average score of 59, with 70 percent saying their physical well-being had declined faster than was normal for their age.

In terms of their mental state, 67 percent said they were unhappy with their jobs, a negative sentiment that has been greatly aggravated in the wake of fuel and electricity rate increases, soaring commodity prices and stagnating salaries.

Meanwhile, more than three quarters of the respondents said they had suffered from insomnia within the past three months, while 8.1 percent said they could not fall asleep on a daily basis.

While weight gain topped the list of respondents’ main cause of anxiety, the poll found that 35 percent said they scarcely exercised, with female workers in particular — 65 percent — saying they exercised an average of 74.7 minutes per week, or only about 10 minutes per day.

In general, the five issues that most concerned the respondents for the next decade were increasing fuel and electricity prices, unaffordable real estate, unemployment, the inability to save money for their pensions and not receiving a pay raise.

Commenting on the findings, Yes123 Job Bank marketing manager Chiu Chien-chih (邱建志) said employees’ main grievances stemmed from a “low pay-to-effort ratio” in their workplaces.

The majority of employees worked long overtime hours in exchange for low incomes and few benefits, leading to a sense of frustration and powerlessness, Chiu said, adding that a gloomy outlook could further intensify the negative sentiment.

Billy Pan (潘建志), a psychiatrist at Taipei Municipal Wanfang Hospital, said most office workers who come in for outpatient services suffer from depression and anxiety triggered by high work-related stress and long working hours.

“Because local businesses are keen to bring down personnel costs, workloads on employees have multiplied. However, their wages have remained stagnant over the past decade, even though Taiwan’s GDP growth has doubled during that period,” Pan said.

The number of working poor is increasing nationwide, he said, with even taxi drivers, who should enjoy a certain amount of flexibility in their working hours, having to work more than 10 hours a day to make ends meet.

Translated by Stacy Hsu, staff writer

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