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Decision on minimum wage increase set for review

2012/09/14 18:20:52

Taipei, Sept. 14 (CNA) Labor Minister Wang Ju-hsuan denied Friday media reports that she will resign as a result of Minister-without-Portfolio Kuan Chung-ming's opposition to a proposal to raise the minimum monthly wage to NT$19,047 (US$647.96) from next year.

Wang said the minimum wage adjustment plan is still being contemplated and that Premier Sean Chen has decided to convene a meeting on the proposal in early October.

"The issue of whether or not to raise the minimum wage will be clearer by that time," Wang said.

The Minimum Wage Review Committee passed a proposal Aug. 9 calling for raising the minimum monthly wage by NT$267, or 1.4 percent, to NT$19,047 from next year.

The proposal also suggested that the basic hourly wage be hiked in two stages, with the first hike to NT$109 in January 2013 and a further increase to a minimum of NT$115 in 2014.

Currently, the minimum monthly wage is NT$18,780, while the minimum hourly wage is NT$103.

The proposal was sent to the Executive Yuan for approval in late August.

Kuan has voiced opposition to the wage increase plan, saying that the current overall economic environment does not create the right conditions for such hikes.

Wang said she has been working hard to protect the rights of workers since taking helm of the Council of Labor Affairs (CLA).

Noting that the adjustment proposal was worked out after extensive discussions among representatives from labor and employers groups, as well as officials and scholars, Wang said the CLA will not back off from the plan.

Cabinet spokesman Hu Yo-wei said Kuan and another minister-without-portfolio, James Hsueh, will co-chair a meeting early next month to review the case.

"Officials from the CLA, the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Council for Economic Affairs and other relevant agencies will jointly work out a mutually acceptable adjustment plan," Hu said.

Meanwhile, General Chamber of Commerce Chairman Lawrence Chang urged the government to delay the planned adjustment of the minimum wage in the face of the unfavorable economic environment.

He called for the government not to adjust the minimum wage until the economy has recovered.

At the same time, however, the Taiwan Confederation of Trade Unions said in a statement that if the government fails to approve the proposal, the unions will take to the streets to demonstrate in favor of workers' rights.

Asked about his views on the minimum wage adjustment issues, opposition Democratic Progressive Party Chairman Su Tseng-chang accused President Ma Ying-jeou's administration of having not done enough to upgrade the country's industry and competitiveness.

He also expressed disappointment at what he called the Ma aministration's lack of feelings for the plight of workers.

(By Zoe Wei, Lin Hui-chun, Hsieh Chia-chen and Hanna Liu)