Wed, Aug 14, 2019 - Page 4 News List

Labor groups call for 5% minimum wage increase

OPPOSING SIDES:Business groups, citing trade dispute and pension pressures, called for a freeze on the wage increase, while labor groups decried stagnant wages

Staff writer, with CNA

Several labor groups on Monday called for a minimum monthly wage increase of at least 5 percent from next year.

Ahead of today’s meeting of the Basic Wage Deliberation Committee, the labor groups held a news conference in front of the Ministry of Labor in Taipei to push for the raise.

Starting from January, the minimum monthly wage was raised by 5 percent from NT$22,000 to NT$23,100 (US$698 to US$733), while the minimum hourly pay was raised 7.14 percent from NT$140 to NT$150.

The committee reviews the minimum wage every year, after which the Executive Yuan considers its recommendations before finalizing the increase. Before a final decision is made, labor and business groups have a chance to make their own recommendations.

The demand came after seven major business groups — including the Chinese National Federation of Industries, the General Chamber of Commerce of the Republic of China, and the Chinese National Association of Industry and Commerce — late last month met with Minister of Labor Hsu Ming-chun (許銘春) to ask that no minimum wage increase be made next year.

Holding banners and flags, labor group representatives shouted: “Raise the minimum wage to help workers surmount wage stagnation” and “Raise the minimum wage to give fair allocation of workers’ efforts; demand a hike of no less than 5 percent.”

The business groups said that even if the committee recommends a wage increase, it should not top 3 percent.

At the news conference, Solidarity Labor Union secretary-general Huang Yu-te (黃育德) said that the government should have a legal mechanism for increasing the minimum wage by enacting a minimum wage law.

Through such a law, the government would be able to consider important economic data, such as the consumer price index, when it deliberates minimum wage hikes, Huang said.

The ministry said that it in late May drafted a minimum wage law and has already submitted it to the Executive Yuan for review.

Yilan Confederation of Trade Unions president Lu Hsueh-min (呂學民) said that about 2.5 million workers are paid the minimum wage, including many people working for food companies in Yilan County.

After the 13km Hsuehshan Tunnel connecting Taipei and Yilan opened in 2006, an influx of travelers has pushed up consumer prices in the county, but wages have stayed flat, making workers’ lives more difficult, he said.

Chinese National Federation of Industries director Ho Yu (何語) said that if the minimum wage is raised by 3 to 5 percent, companies could expect to see their combined costs increase by NT$16.1 billion to NT$25 billion.

The US-China trade dispute has affected global economic fundamentals, and along with China’s ban on independent travelers and the government’s pension reforms, the local economy has been harmed, Ho said.

The business groups are calling for a freeze on the minimum wage to help enterprises withstand pressure from rising costs, he added.

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