Sat, Sep 15, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Minister denies she will quit over minimum wage

BAD TIMING?The proposal to increase the minimum wage has polarized opinions, with some insisting that the measure is not a wise move in a dire economy

Staff writer, with CNA

Premier Sean Chen, center, talks to the media in Taipei yesterday, denying allegations he is trying to delay raising the minimum monthly wage.

Photo: CNA

Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) Minister Jennifer Wang (王如玄) yesterday denied media reports that she will resign as a result of Minister Without Portfolio Kuan Chung-ming’s (管中閔) opposition to a proposal to raise the minimum monthly wage to NT$19,047 (US$650) starting next year.

Wang said the minimum wage adjustment plan is still being contemplated and that Premier Sean Chen (陳冲) has decided to convene a meeting on the proposal early next month.

“The issue of whether the minimum wage will be raised will be clearer by that time,” she said.

The Minimum Wage Review Committee passed a proposal on Aug. 9 which called for increasing the minimum monthly wage by NT$267, or 1.4 percent, to NT$19,047 from next year.

The proposal also suggested that the minimum hourly wage be hiked in two stages, with the first hike to NT$109 to take place in January next year and a further increase to NT$115 implemented in 2014.

Currently, the minimum monthly wage is NT$18,780, while the minimum hourly wage is NT$103.

The proposal was sent to the Executive Yuan for approval late last month.

Kuan has voiced opposition to the wage increase plan, saying that the current overall economic environment does not create the right conditions for such hikes.

Wang said she has been working hard to protect workers’ rights since taking the helm of the council.

She added that the proposal had been worked out after extensive discussions among representatives from lab+or and employer groups, as well as officials and academics, and that the CLA would not back down from the plan.

Executive Yuan spokesman Hu Yu-wei (胡幼偉) yesterday said Kuan and Minister Without Portfolio James Hsueh (薛承泰) will co-chair a meeting early next month to review the proposal.

“Officials from the CLA, the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Council for Economic Affairs and other relevant agencies will jointly work out a mutually acceptable adjustment plan,” Hu said.

Meanwhile, General Chamber of Commerce chairman Lawrence Chang (張平沼) urged the government to delay the planned wage adjustment in the face of the unfavorable economic environment.

He called for the government not to adjust the minimum wage until the economy has recovered.

At the same time, the Taiwan Confederation of Trade Unions said in a statement that if the government fails to approve the proposal, the unions will take to the streets to demonstrate in support of workers’ rights.

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