Wed, Aug 08, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Cabinet urges public not to misinterpret premier

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

Executive Yuan spokeswoman Kolas Yotaka yesterday called on the public not to misrepresent Premier William Lai’s (賴清德) remarks about the problem of low wages after comments he made on Monday sparked controversy.

Lai appeared on a Yahoo TV program, during which a member of the audience asked him to comment on the government statistical average salary level not being reflected in real wages.

Lai said he came under fire the last time he referenced the average salary.

“The average [monthly] salary is more than NT$48,000. Of course, it is an indicator for the economy, but since it is an average, that means half of the people are earning less than that,” he said.

The average salary this year has risen from last year and the year before that, according to government data.

“If put to good use, this [number] can help workers,” Lai said.

“It is essentially telling the employers: ‘Look, you are making money. This is the current average salary, so you cannot pay me such a small salary,’” he said.

Lai likened the average salary to a market price according to which jobseekers can negotiate their wages with potential employers.

However, a number of news outlets ran misleading reports saying that Lai encouraged workers to demand pay raises from their employers because the average salary is too low.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Culture and Communications Committee deputy director-general Hung Meng-kai (洪孟楷) said that Lai pays contract employees at the Executive Yuan less than the average salary, citing his announcement in May that he would raise the average monthly wage for the employees from about NT$28,000 to NT$30,000, starting next year.

“With the salaries of Executive Yuan workers averaging less than NT$48,000, is Lai encouraging protests from his employees?” Hung said.

Kolas yesterday said the average salary in Taiwan is NT$49,989, which was derived from overtime fees, bonuses, holiday bonuses, dividends and net salaries earned by people across all professions.

The calculation method is in line with international standards, she said.

Lai made the remarks as a reminder to employers that the rising average salary shows that the economy is improving and that they should share their profits with their workers, Kolas said.

“Hopefully, the public can refrain from misinterpreting the premier’s goodwill,” she added.

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