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Premier seeks to make assurances on Labor Day

2014/05/01 17:26:37

Labor Day demonstration in Taipei.

Taipei, May 1 (CNA) Premier Jiang Yi-huah sought to reassure the nation's workers in a Labor Day statement Thursday that said the government is listening and working to fine-tune its policies to better serve the people's needs.

As dozens of trade unions and labor rights groups staged a rally of thousands to march against low pay and "dispatch employment," Jiang sought to show respect and gratitude for workers by crediting them with the nation's progress and development.

He said during a Cabinet meeting that he has instructed the Ministry of Labor to communicate the government's positions and reasons for its policies.

He listed a series of policies that he said strive to protect labor rights and improve people's wellbeing, including gradual hikes in the minimum wage, improvements on maternity subsidies, and the extension of jobless benefits and initiatives to help the young find work.

Even as the premier spoke, protesters gathered outside the Ministry of Labor with demands for improving working conditions, including tackling the use of dispatched temporary workers.

Labor groups have called for a ban on dispatch workers, while the labor ministry has set a maximum number of dispatch workers at a company of 3 percent of a the company's total employees.

There were some 590,000 temporary or dispatch workers in Taiwan in May 2013, according to the latest government data.

Other complaints have focused on wage levels, which have shown negative growth over the past several years despite the government's efforts to raise the national minimum wage.

Government data showed monthly wages averaging NT$44,739 (US$1,481) in 2013, lower than the average of NT$44,798 in 1998, when taking inflation into account.

(By Hsieh Chia-chen and Scully Hsiao)
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●May 1: Workers to march against low pay on Labor Day