President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) should apologize for his failure to improve the salaries of private-sector workers and the general labor environment during his time as president, as more than 9 million workers celebrate International Workers’ Day today, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers said yesterday.
Under Ma’s leadership, wages for private-sector workers have dropped to the level they were at 14 years ago, making Taiwan one of the few countries in which workers’ average salaries decreased between 2007 and last year, DPP Legislator Yeh Yi-jin (葉宜津) told a press conference.
As bad as the wage situation is, the deterioration of Taiwan’s labor environment is an even more serious concern, Yeh said.
A total of 38 workers died from being overworked last year, meaning that a death from overwork occurred every 10 days on average, she said.
Data also showed that on average, more than 100 occupational accidents occured each day between 2009 and last year, with the annual number of deaths from such accdints in the same period ranging from 281 and 319.
Private-sector workers are also unhappy when they look at their futures under the government’s current pension reform plan because they would receive a monthly retirement payment from the Labor Insurance Fund which is lower than the monthly state subsidy given to low-income households, Yeh said.
DPP Legislator Lin Shu-fen (林淑芬) said that blue-collar workers were not the only ones who had to deal with increased hardship, as white-collar professionals are also suffering from being overworked and earning low incomes.
Lin said the government and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) were avoiding enacting the legislation required to improve labor conditions.
DPP Legislator Huang Wei-cher (黃偉哲) urged Ma to work on narrowing the income gap between private-sector workers and civil servants — who received a 3 percent pay raise two years ago and enjoy a better retirement package — before social divisions worsen.