Tue, Feb 27, 2018 - Page 3 News List

NPP basic wage plebiscite proposals ‘to be discussed’

LIVING NEEDS:A referendum on the minimum wage might affect the budget by raising government workers’ wages, making it off-limits, the electoral commission said

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

Proposals to stage referendums about the introduction of a higher minimum wage and to scrap the latest amendment to the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法) made by New Power Party (NPP) Executive Chairman Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) are to be further discussed, the Central Election Commission (CEC) said after hearings about the proposals yesterday.

The minimum wage is NT$22,000 per month, or NT$140 per hour, after the Ministry of Labor in September last year raised it from NT$21,009, or NT$133 per hour, in adherence to the Regulations for the Deliberation of Basic Wage (基本工資審議辦法).

While President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has promised to introduce a higher minimum wage, the ministry continues postponing legislation, Huang said, adding that the public should demand a new wage act through a referendum.

Huang proposed the question: “Do you agree that the Legislative Yuan should instate a minimum wage act to ensure that the nation’s minimum wage allows workers and those they support to meet their basic living needs?”

As the CEC believed that the proposal might contravene the Referendum Act (公民投票法), which prohibits any proposals from addressing governmental budget and personnel affairs, it yesterday morning held a hearing to obtain clarity.

Although there is consensus across political parties about the need for a wage act, Huang’s proposal is not suitable for a referendum, as it touches on budget and salary regulations, Ming Chuan University law professor Liu Shih-hau (劉士豪) said.

However, although the government budget might be affected by the act, the influence would be barely perceptible, given that public servants’ salaries already exceed the minimum wage, National Taiwan University Graduate Institute of National Development professor Hsin Ping-lung (辛炳隆) said, adding that the definition of “basic living needs” needs to be improved, as people could make different assumptions.

Wage issues can already be addressed using the Regulations for the Deliberation of Basic Wage and the ministry is also preparing a draft bill, Department of Labor Standards and Equal Employment Deputy Director Huang Wei-chen (黃維琛) said, denying that it is purposefully putting off its legislation.

Huang Kuo-chang also proposed the referendum question: “Do you agree to scrap the amendment to the Labor Standards Act passed on Jan. 10 and let the legislature re-examine it?”

The proposal was discussed in a second hearing yesterday afternoon.

While some legal experts expressed support for the proposal and blasted the ministry’s rashness in pushing the amendment, Huang Wei-chen said that the amendment was made after thorough evaluation and does not damage labor rights.

Huang Kuo-chang said that the commission appeared to be throwing up barriers to holding referendums.

The commission is next to convene committee reviews of the two proposals and is to announce the outcomes in 30 days, commission Vice Chairman Chen Chao-chien (陳朝建) said, adding that hearing attendees could access the transcripts from Thursday next week.

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