If the government insists that its decision to set prerequisites for a minimum wage hike was legitimate, it should adopt the same requirement for government officials’ ‘salary schemes, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers said yesterday.
The Executive Yuan on Wednesday put off a plan to raise the minimum monthly wage by NT$267 (US$9.10), with Premier Sean Chen (陳冲) saying that wages would be raised only if GDP grows by more than 3 percent for two quarters in a row or the unemployment rate drops below 4 percent for two consecutive months.
“This decision was made solely from the employers perspective, showing that the Chinese Nationalist Party [KMT] has always been a a party which sides with the corporates,” DPP Legislator Huang Wei-cher (黃偉哲) told a press conference.
If the government truly cares about the public, it could have set the prerequisite of the salary adjustment scheme based on the Consumer Price Index, Huang said.
Huang dared Chen to adopt a scheme that reduces government officials’ salaries when GDP growth is lower than 3 percent and the unemployment rate is higher than 4 percent.
The government is basically making its responsibilities — to promote GDP growth and reduce unemployment rates — preconditions for workers’ salary schemes, DPP Legislator Pan Men-an (潘孟安) said.
Pan added that the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法) does not give authority to the Executive Yuan to overrule recommendations by the Minimum Wage Review Committee, a mechanism set up to review the minimum wage on an annual basis.
“During the past 20 years, no recommendation of the committee had been rejected,” Pan said.
The DPP caucus said it would report the Executive Yuan to the Control Yuan, saying it had violated the law. The DPP added that it would propose next week the establishment of similar salary scheme thresholds for government officials.
Chen’s decision means “the chance of a minimum wage hike is close to impossible,” DPP Legislator Chen Ting-fei (陳亭妃) said, because Taiwan is now struggling to keep its GDP growth above 1 percent and unemployment rates during Ma’s term have never been below 4 percent, except for one month.
Former DPP chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), who is visiting India, said in a press release yesterday that the measure “has held Taiwanese people accountable for the government’s irresponsibility.”
If the Ma administration established such preconditions for workers’ salaries, Tsai said, it should set up a timetable to stimulate GDP growth and reduce jobless rates as well.
Separately yesterday, labor groups staged a protest outside the Executive Yuan building against the Cabinet’s decision not to raise the minimum monthly wage, calling for Sean Chen to resign.
Taiwan Labor Front secretary-general Son Yu-lian (孫友聯) said he was angry about the Cabinet’s announcement that the monthly minimum wage will not be adjusted higher until the economy improves.
“Announcing a delay in the minimum monthly pay is like a death sentence on minimum wages, with immediate execution,” Son said.
Noting that Taiwan’s unemployment rate has not dropped below 4 percent in the last four years, he said the labor groups cannot accept the Cabinet’s decision or trust the government anymore.
Additional reporting by CNA