Today is Labor Day, but workers in Taiwan are not happy because their pay has remained nearly the same as it was 10 years ago while the unemployment rate and consumer prices continue to rise.
The most important reason behind the low salary levels is an oversupply of labor, with a high jobless rate among young people. In order to boost salary levels, the country should develop industries that are capable of offering higher pay and hiring more people.
Over the past 20 years, many labor-intensive industries have moved their production out of Taiwan to countries where labor costs are cheaper, which has brought down labor demand and pushed up the unemployment rate. Keeping industries in the country and developing new ones will increase jobs and help boost salary levels.
Although Taiwan has developed some capital-intensive and high-tech industries, the number of jobs created per unit of investment is low. International competition has also led to thin profit margins, leaving companies poorly positioned to raise workers' pay. We need to develop knowledge-based industries to stand out from the competition.
In addition, the government should pay greater attention to sectors targeting domestic demand, such as caregiving services, which can provide a large number of jobs.
Meanwhile, with many hypermarkets and franchise businesses having become monopolies, there is a need to increase the minimum hourly wage to prevent the exploitation of workers. (Editorial abstract -- May 1, 2012)
(By Y.F. Low)