Council of Labor Affairs Minister Jennifer Wang (王如玄) yesterday tendered another letter of resignation to Premier Sean Chen (陳冲) over a decision not to raise the minimum wage next year, her second in as many days.
Executive Yuan spokesperson Hu Yu-wei (胡幼偉) confirmed that Chen’s office had received the second letter from Wang in the morning, but added that the premier still wanted her to stay in her position in the Cabinet.
Wang announced her resignation on Wednesday afternoon after a proposal to raise the minimum monthly wage by NT$267, or 1.42 percent, from NT$18,780 beginning next year was rejected by Chen, who said that the minimum wage would be adjusted depending on GDP growth and the unemployment rate in the coming months.
Wang said she first offered to resign to Chen on Sept. 13, around the time when Chen was accused by labor groups of holding off on deciding on the proposal. Chen instead asked Minister Without Portfolio Kuan Chung-ming (管中閔) to hold an interagency meeting to review the proposal.
The referral of the proposal by Chen to Kuan was a departure from past practice.
In most cases, a premier always signed off on the council’s minimum wage increase proposal, which is jointly decided by representatives of labor groups, employers, academics and officials on the council’s Minimum Wage Review Committee on an annual basis.
Hu said he did not know when Wang first indicated her intention to resign, but added that Chen had always wanted her to stay to continue to work with the Cabinet.
Chen was of the opinion that it was good and healthy to have Cabinet members holding different views because it helps the policy formulation process and Wang is a reasonable person to discuss ideas with, Hu said.
After Wang announced her resignation, Chen spoke to her twice on the phone and had an Executive Yuan staff member send her letter back at 6:30pm.
Chen was quoted by Hu as saying that he would do his best to keep Wang in the Cabinet.
Meanwhile, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) praised Wang’s efforts to make the rights of workers a priority and called to dissuade her from resigning.
Wang, who is not a member of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), joined the Cabinet four years ago at the invitation of Ma.
Presidential Office spokesman Fan Chiang Tai-chi (范姜泰基) said Ma called Wang twice on Wednesday to dissuade her from resigning, urging her to stay and implement labor policies.
“Wang has put a lot of efforts into fighting for the rights of workers in the past four years. President Ma hopes she will reconsider her resignation and stay in the Cabinet,” he said.
Additional reporting by Mo Yan-chih