Labor groups yesterday marked International Workers’ Day with a march through Taipei, while groups focused on pushing a higher minimum wage and guaranteed worker pension plans.
Participants congregated along Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office Building, before marching past the Legislative Yuan — where they unfurled large banners with slogans asking for legislators’ support.
A teachers’ group later held a sit-in protest in front of the Executive Yuan, while brief scuffles broke out with police in front of the Control Yuan.
Taiwan Confederation of Trade Unions director Chiang Chien-hsin (江健興) led attendees in chanting slogans on a stage with participants waving flags and banners representing workers’ groups from various industries, as well as migrant workers from Southeast Asian countries.
Taiwan has done well in the fight against COVID-19, compared with most countries that had repeated lockdowns and business closures, the confederation said in a statement.
Taiwan’s GDP grew 3.11 percent last year, with new highs in the stock market and the GDP forecast to grow 4.64 percent this year after already reaching 8.16 percent last quarter, it said, citing government data.
The prosperity at the top is the result of workers’ blood, sweat and tears, Chiang said.
“Taiwan’s workers made the main contributions to last year’s ‘economic miracle,’ but did not receive their fair share of the benefits. Wage increases lagged far behind economic growth and corporate profits,” he said.
“The government keeps touting Taiwan’s economic performance, yet it is only willing to offer a monthly minimum wage increase of NT$200,” he said, referring to an increase that took effect in January that raised the monthly minimum wage from NT$23,800 to NT$24,000 and the hourly minimum wage from NT$158 to NT$160.
Chiang said that the increases were insignificant, and called for the monthly minimum wage to be raised to NT$30,000.
He also urged the government to increase salaries for state enterprises, teachers and civil servants.
Another problem facing workers is pension security, as the labor pension system is projected to go bankrupt by 2026, the group said.
They urged the government to consult with labor unions in establishing a system similar to the sovereign wealth fund — a state-owned fund supported by revenue from commodity exports, foreign-exchange reserves and other investments — to make sure that the pension scheme does not collapse.
Organizers on stage had food items delivered by Uber Eats and Foodpanda workers to highlight the delegates representing the National Delivery Industrial Union as a new labor force of mostly young people, many of whom were attending the event for the first time.
Arery Chen (陳昱安), an organizer for the National Delivery Industrial Union, said that workers from Lalamove, Gogo X and others were also joining the union.
They have realized the need to band together after the two leading delivery platforms cut pay 10 to 30 percent in March, Chen said, adding that the union is calling for more rights for food delivery workers, as well as improved compensation for drivers injured in traffic accidents on the job.
Additional reporting by CNA
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