Social security net in need of strengthening: DPP

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Fri, Oct 05, 2012 - Page 3

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus yesterday warned of recent massive layoffs in the private sector and urged the government to immediately strengthen the social security net amid a worsening economic situation.

The caucus said it would propose a conditional salary cut in the legislature today for the president, vice president, premier and all members of the Cabinet because of their poor performance.

A total of 6,852 workers in the private sector have been laid off this year as of the end of last month, a 57 percent increase compared with the same period last year, DPP Legislator Yeh Yi-jin (葉宜津) told a press conference, citing statistics from the Council of Labor Affairs.

Furloughs have also increased in the past three months, Yeh said.

The phenomenon showed that the domestic employment market could experience a further blow in the fourth quarter and that president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) administration had been unable to stimulate the economy or the job market, she said.

Numerous reports in the newspapers, such as a stories about a mother who stole money to buy medication for her daughter, a father who borrowed money from a police officer to buy food for his children and an unemployed man who committed suicide with his mother, indicate that there is cause for concern, DPP Legislator Pan Men-an (潘孟安) said.

These cases show that the government should immediately strengthen the social security net, with possible assistance from NGOs, he said, adding that the council should also launch an investigation to assess whether private companies had used the struggling economy as an excuse for mass layoffs.

“Most of the reported tragedies came down to one problem — jobs,” Pan said.

Since the government was unable to strenghten the economy, but still went ahead with a decision that minimum monthly wages would be raised only if GDP grows by more than 3 percent for two quarters in a row or the unemployment rate drops below 4 percent for two consecutive months, the DPP asserted that the measure should also apply to the high-ranking officials in the Ma administration, DPP Legislator Tsai Chi-chang (蔡其昌) said.

That was why the caucus would propose a salary cut scheme with the exact same preconditions for the officials, he said, “if the preconditions were not met, they could only be paid half of their salaries.”

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers had a similar proposal, which demanded government officials to reimburse their year-end bonuses if the economy remained sluggish, Tsai said.

“We hope that KMT legislators will support our proposal. It would be a test of their will to hold government officials accountable,” Tsai said.