Goverment, Labor Organizations, Businesses Debate Raising Minimum Wage

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Photo by Central Bank of the Republic of China (Taiwan) via Wikimedia Commons

The Executive Yuan has said that the minimum wage of NT$140 per hour should be raised. Vice Premier Shih Jun-ji (施俊吉) proposed raising the hourly wage by NT$10 to NT$150, Apple Daily reported.

The Ministry of Labor will conduct a review of the proposed wage increase in the third quarter of the year.

95 Youth Labor Union (台灣青年勞動九五聯盟) director Chou Yu-hsuan (周于萱) said that while the organization supports the effort to raise the minimum wage, there is fear that some employers will use it as an excuse to move operations out of Taiwan.

Chou added that low wages aren’t the only problem facing young workers. She pointed to housing prices and student loan repayments as factors necessitating an increase in the living wage. She also mentioned employers skirting overtime pay rules and insurance, noting that many young workers are afraid to confront their bosses at their first job because they need the experience on their resume.

Job website yes123 spokesperson Yang Tsung-pin (楊宗斌) said that a NT$10 increase in hourly wage is not enough and the minimum should be raised to at least NT$165-170 as a basic living wage. Yang noted that the wage increase would help those in the service industry most. He added that employers will have to adjust to the increase by either reducing staff or raising prices. While neither situation to cope with the wage increase is preferably, he believes it is necessary for the economy.

Last year, 3.051 million workers in Taiwan earned less than NT$30,000 per month. More than half of those workers were 15-29 years old. Of those making less than NT$30,000 per month, government statistics show that there were 805,000 “atypical” workers — employees who aren’t on a fix-term contract or working part-time/temporary positions. The average salary of atypical workers was NT$22,550 per month, according to statistics from the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS).

DGBAS statistics showed that 16,067 low-paid workers (those earning less than NT$30,000 per month) are employed at government agencies, state-owned enterprises or government-funded institutions. The proposed wage increase would increase those salaries gradually to the minimum of NT$30,000, which would cost the government an additional NT$962 million per year.

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