Pan-green camp lawmakers yesterday said President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) Minister Jennifer Wang (王如玄) should both be held accountable for the reported suspension of a planned minimum wage hike, an action the lawmakers said “betrayed the nation’s workers.”
Wang was reportedly upset about her inability to reverse Minister Without Portfolio Kuan Chung-ming’s (管中閔) opposition to the proposal to raise the minimum monthly wage to NT$19,047 (US$650) next year from the current NT$18,780.
“We want to express our anger to the Premier Sean Chen (陳冲)-led Cabinet — an administration dominated by corporate interests — and call for Minister Wang to resign,” Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) told a press conference.
The alleged suspension, Tsai said, was “another bounced check” among Ma’s campaign pledges, which promised to raise hourly wages to NT$115.
DPP lawmakers also issued a warning to Chen about the scheduled electricity rate increase on Dec. 10 and advised the administration to call off the increase.
The government’s insistence on raising fuel and electricity prices was the primary reason for domestic inflation rising this year, Tsai said, adding that “there is no doubt that the government is the prime culprit of current levels of inflation and the stagnant economy.”
“If the administration does not freeze the planned increase of electricity rates before the new legislative session opens on Tuesday, we will not hesitate to stage the strongest protest possible against the Premier’s scheduled report to the legislature,” Tsai said.
While the Ma administration said it planned to raise the wages “once the economic climate gets better,” it said earlier this year that the fuel and electricity prices hikes “could not wait,” DPP Legislator Huang Wei-cher (黃偉哲) said.
“That pretty much tells you the nature of this government — the profit of corporations is always higher on the agenda than people’s livelihoods,” Huang added.
The CLA’s plan is “humble” compared to labor rights groups’ recommendation of a minimum monthly wage of NT$23,151, but the Executive Yuan would not even approve the watered down plan despite labor groups being ready to accept it, DPP Legislator Lee Kun-tse (李昆澤) said.
Taiwan Solidarity Union caucus whip Huang Wen-ling (黃文玲) said Wang should resign for failing to safeguard workers’ rights, which is meant to be the ministry’s primary mission.