Sun, Oct 07, 2018 - Page 3 News List

INTERVIEW: Workers to benefit from laws on wages and protection

The draft minimum wage law does not set a fixed formula, but rather requires a committee to meet in the third quarter of each year to review the minimum wage, Minster of Labor Hsu Ming-chun said in an interview with ‘Liberty Times’ (sister newspaper of the ‘Taipei Times’) staff reporter Liao Chien-ying

Minister of Labor Hsu Ming-chun talks to the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) on Sept. 17.

Photo: George Tsorng, Taipei Times

Liberty Times (LT): It has been seven months since you assumed the position of labor minister. What is your vision for labor in Taiwan and do you have any policies planned?

Hsu Ming-chun (許銘春): Workers are a company’s biggest asset. The primary requirement for companies that want to operate sustainably is to treat workers well. I will push to meet three goals in terms of the ministry’s policies: stability, security and safety.

First, I want all workers to have a stable job. I want to use professional training to improve the skills of workers just entering the workplace, as well as those of current workers. Meanwhile, we are drafting a special employment act to create a friendly workplace for middle-aged and senior workers.

Second, having a workplace in which workers can work securely is crucial. I will create a minimum wage law to protect marginal workers, bolster the guaranteed rights and interests of non-traditional workers and migrant workers, and encourage businesses to share profits with workers.

Finally, having a work environment that is 100 percent safe is the most important. Safety is the bottom line for workers. While toughening workplace inspections and aiming for zero industrial accidents, I will push for legislation that establishes occupational accident insurance that integrates accident prevention and rehabilitation.

The new legislation would also allow workers to enjoy economic stability in their old age and ensure sustainable development.

LT: How is the draft of the minimum wage bill progressing?

Hsu: The minimum wage act has been a major plank in President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) platform. The aim is to include a process for setting the minimum wage into legislation, a procedure that takes social and economic indicators into account so that the calculated minimum income maintains a basic standard of living. Such improvements would create a clear and unambiguous basis for adjusting the minimum wage. The bill is more or less complete.

In chairing the Basic Wage Commission meeting last month, I found that the labor and capital sectors agree on which economic indicators to use. The act is being drafted along those lines.

The Ministry of Labor has consulted with several major countries, studying the systems that they use for setting a minimum wage. As none of them uses a set formula, there is no plan to introduce one into the bill. If we used a set formula, there would be no need to have the [basic wage] commission, or to discuss anything, because plugging numbers into the formula would suffice.

However, adjustments to the minimum wage should be made after considering fluctuations in the economy. I believe that setting the minimum wage is a balancing act between guaranteeing a basic standard of living for laborers and facilitating economic growth. We need to approach the issue using rational methods.

LT: What indicators would the Basic Wage Commission use?

Hsu: The most important aspect of the minimum wage act is to define a set of wage adjustment indicators. Provisionally, there are indicators that “should” be consulted and those that “could” be consulted. The commission would use the mandatory indicators to define the adjustment range and exercise discretion in consulting the optional indicators. The system would provide more flexibility in responding to social and economic changes.

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