Premier Sean Chen (陳冲) yesterday approved a controversial proposal to award workers at state-owned firms administered by the Ministry of Economic Affairs year-end bonuses of up to 4.6 months’ salary.
The decision ignored a public outcry over the hefty size of bonuses for employees at companies that have been losing money.
Chen defended his decision in a press release, saying that the bonus was linked to performance in the fiscal year of 2011, not last year when the economy fell into a slump.
However, Chen demanded a thorough review of the system under which bonuses are composed of two parts, one based on company performance as decided by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the other based on employees’ job performance, evaluated by several government agencies led by the Research, Development and Evaluation Commission and subject to Cabinet approval.
He ordered an examination into factors and indexes used to determine the size of the bonus by the end of next month.
Employees of CPC Corp, Taiwan (CPC) are to receive 4.6 months’ salary as a year-end bonus ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday next month, while employees of Aerospace Industrial Development Corp will get (AIDC) 3.88 months’ salary, Taiwan Water Corp 3.46 months’ salary and Taiwan Sugar Corp 3.31 months’ salary.
Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) will award year-end bonuses to its employees of between 2.6 and 3.45 times their monthly salaries.
Meanwhile, the legislature yesterday approved a resolution demanding a preview before the year-end bonus scale is set, which might allow lawmakers to have a say in the government’s decision about the size of bonuses for workers of state-owned firms.
The resolution came after the Ministry of Economic Affairs decided the size of the next year-end bonus based on the performance of the companies, three of which were operating in the red. Most notable was CPC, which posted a deficit of NT$32.4 billion (US$1.12 billion) in 2011.
The ministry decided to award its workers a bonus worth 2.6 months of their salaries, the highest level of bonus awarded based on company performance.
The ministry also decided to award workers at Taipower 1.65 months’ salary despite the company posting a loss of NT$43.3 billion in 2011.
Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-shiang (施顏祥) has said its bonus policy was justified because state-owned enterprises shoulder policy responsibility, compromising their ability to make profits.
Many lawmakers rejected the argument, demanding a correlation between the size of year-end bonus for workers at state-owned firms and company performance and transparency.
The resolution, initiated by the People First Party caucus, said that the size of bonus should not be unilaterally decided by regulatory agencies of state-owned firms and that factors that are identified as policy responsibility affecting the company’s surplus statuses shall be detailed in a bonus policy plan and submitted to the legislature.