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.
Photo: George Tsorng, Taipei Times
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.
The draft act contains seven wage adjustment indicators: the annual growth rate of the consumer price index, the average worker’s income, average growth in the average wage, the state of the nation’s economy, the wage and salary survey, the family income survey and the minimum cost of living.
It has not yet been decided which indicators would fall under the mandatory category and which under the optional category. This is to be decided after consulting with the public.
The minimum wage is currently determined by regulations that control basic wage deliberations, while the proposed act would change the legal status of the rules, from regulations to a law. While the Basic Wage Commission is supposed to convene during the third quarter of each year, there is no legal mandate requiring it to do so. The bill would address this by stipulating when the commission must meet.
LT: Will there be other important labor legislation later this year?
Hsu: The ministry has completed a draft employment act for middle-aged and senior workers to manage the employment and hiring of these workers.
The legally required preview of the draft act has been completed, and the ministry is now gathering different opinions and reassessing the text of the act. The draft is expected to be delivered to the Executive Yuan for review before the end of the month, and will be sent to the Legislative Yuan for review during the next legislative session at the earliest.
I recently watched a video online in which a young person and an elderly person were teaching each other fitness moves. The teenager discovered that the senior’s performance was better than expected. The video shattered stereotypes held about other generations. In other words, do not hold stereotypes about senior citizens — as long as you are young at heart, you will always be in good shape.
The ministry will continue to push for measures to facilitate the employment of middle-aged and senior citizens. The elderly population provides considerable help to the employment market.
There will also be legislation regarding occupational accident insurance. The draft is expected to be completed before June next year.
Since assuming this position, I have emphasized workplace safety. Legislative protections for those involved in occupational accidents are crucial.
Regulations on protections related to occupational accidents are currently spread throughout the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法), the Labor Insurance Act (勞工保險條例) and other laws. Workers are sometimes unable to know in a prompt, clear and comprehensive manner what their rights are after experiencing an occupational accident. That is why ad hoc legislation is needed on this issue.
The ministry is planning to remove mention of occupational accident insurance from the Labor Insurance Act and to integrate it into a law that protects workers involved in occupational accidents so that a complete system of protection can be established, one that handles everything from prevention to compensation and rehabilitation.
Translated by staff writers Sherry Hsiao and Jonathan Chin
WAR FUNDING: A report by UK and Ukrainian defense analysts said that Taiwanese exports of a compound used in gunpowder have been helping Russia propagate its war About 20 percent of nitrocellulose — a compound used in gunpowder — imported into Russia has been sourced from Taiwan, a joint British-Ukrainian investigative report showed. Nitrocellulose is a key component of smokeless gunpowder, and the EU has banned export of the compound to Russia due to its ongoing war of aggression against Ukraine. The report said that nitrocellulose produced in Taiwan makes its way to Russia by passing through other countries such as Turkey. Only one company, T.N.C. Industrial Co (台硝), was named in the report, which also named China and Germany as key sources of the compound for
A Singaporean social media streamer who goes by the pseudonym Kiaraakitty faked an egg attack by an alleged passerby during a livestream in Kaohsiung on Feb. 9, the city’s police department said on Saturday. The department was responding to the streamer’s claim earlier this month that a stranger had thrown eggs at her during a recent visit to Kaohsiung. Kiaraakitty is known for posting provocative content on livestreaming sites such as Twitch and Discord, as well as other social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. She also posts on paid adult content Web site OnlyFans. In the video dated Feb. 9,
HOT TOPIC: The Taiwan-born founder of a restaurant in the Japanese city is generally credited with creating the super spicy dish, which was originally intended as a staff meal For Taiwanese, ramen is one of the dishes that most represents Japan; for Japanese, its origins are in China. Then there is “Taiwan ramen,” which can only be found in Japan, but not in Taiwan. It is almost impossible to reach a consensus on the origin of any dish, but a brief look at its history might be helpful. Not many people who are not Japanese question whether ramen is really Japanese. Yet think about it — ramen is often unctuous and rich, unlike most other must-try Japanese foods familiar to foreign visitors to the country, such as sushi and soba noodles. According
MORE THAN USUAL: The number of naval ships in the area was more than the usual four to six in a 24-hour window and the highest so far this year, data showed Eleven Chinese naval vessels were detected around Taiwan, the highest daily number this year, the Ministry of National Defense said yesterday as a row between Taipei and Beijing over a fatal fishing boat incident drags on. In the 24 hours leading up to 6am yesterday, China deployed 15 warplanes, 11 naval vessels and one balloon in the waters and skies around Taiwan, the ministry said. At least 15 more Chinese warplanes had been detected since then, it said. The number of Chinese naval ships was more than the usual four to six in a 24-hour window and the highest so far this year,