The government supports raising the country’s minimum wage by more than 3 percent, Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) said yesterday at a breakfast meeting with labor groups, who staged a no-show.
Two days before Workers’ Day, Wu and several government officials were set to discuss labor issues with labor groups and trade unions, but the labor groups all chose to be absent from the meeting.
“We are going to have a demonstration [on May 1]. Look at our office and you will know that we are all tied up. It was impossible for us to have time for the appointment,” Taiwan Labor Front secretary-general Son Yu-lian (孫友聯) said.
It was initially the labor groups’ idea to have a breakfast meeting with Wu to show him what poor people eat for breakfast, but it turned out that the Executive Yuan became the host of the event and invited additional groups to be Wu’s guests without consent from labor groups, Son said.
“We didn’t feel he was sincere about his desire to have breakfast with us,” he added.
One of the trade unions that did attended the meeting yesterday was the Chinese Federation of Labor, whose president is Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chen Chieh (陳杰), while other groups in attendance were also viewed as being close to the KMT.
“It was a pity that they [the other labor groups] did not come today, but we still had an opportunity. I can’t only listen to people who oppose us and withhold invitations to those who are kind to us,” Wu said.
According to Council of Labor Affairs Minister Jennifer Wang (王如玄), Wu said at the closed-door meeting that the government would allow the minimum wage to be raised by more than 3 percent.
The council proposed to raise the minimum wage by more than 3 percent after the government proposed to offer a 3 percent pay raise for civil servants, which is expected to take effect in July if the budget request of NT$11 billion (US$380.56 million) is approved by lawmakers.
The minimum monthly wage was raised by NT$600 a month last year, bringing it to NT$17,880 a month.
Wang said the current Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法) stipulates the maximum legal working hours as 84 hours per two weeks — four hours more than civil servants are expected to work — and that the council’s goal is to cut it to 80 hours over two weeks.
However, she said the major task is to work toward a higher minimum wage and better working conditions for workers.
Additional reporting by CNA