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Talk of the Day -- Pros and cons of minimum wage adjustment

2012/07/19 23:16:55

The Minimum Wage Review Committee will meet Aug. 2 to discuss whether current minimum monthly and hourly wages should be adjusted.

With the country's exports posting a rare 4.7 percent decline in the first half of this year and Academia Sinica having lowered its forecast for gross domestic product (GDP) growth for 2012 to below 2 percent, labor officials are concerned that local employers may oppose any proposal to raise hourly or monthly minimum wages.

At present, the country's minimum monthly wage stands at NT$18,780 (US$626) and the hourly wage at NT$103.

The following are excerpts from a special report in the Thursday edition of the United Evening News on the minimum wage issue:

Yiin Chii-ming, chairman of the Council for Economic Planning and Development, said a careful assessment on the possible impact of minimum wage adjustments should be made before taking any actions.

The Academia Sinica's cut of GDP growth forecast to 1.94 percent is worthy of government attention, Yiin said.

Noting that adjustment in minimum monthly wage will mainly benefit migrant workers since most local workers' monthly salaries have long exceeded such a level, Yiin said local employers' opinions should also be carefully evaluated.

Some senior executives of industry and commerce associations said it's time to review Taiwan's economic development problems rather than discuss wage adjustment issues as the local economy has remained stagnant for quite some time.

"If the government insists on raising the minimum wage at this time of economic hardships, more companies may relocate abroad or even close operations. Should that happen, more people could lose job and the unemployment rate may surge," said Wang Ying-chieh, a Chamber of Commerce board member.

Major labor groups, however, are calling for raising the minimum monthly wage to more than NT$23,000.

Labor Minister Wang Ju-hsuan has long proposed an 11 percent hike in minimum hourly wage to NT$115, but she has not set any target for monthly wage adjustment.

"We need to give priority to hourly wage earners to allow them to maintain a basic standard of living," Wang said Thursday.

Hsieh Chuan-chih, secretary-general of the Taiwan Confederation of Trade Unions, said his organization agrees to the Wang-proposed range of hike for hourly wage.

"We hope the monthly wage will also be adjusted on a similar scale," Hsieh said.

The 21-member wage review committee is led the labor minister, with its members representing employers, labor unions, scholars and relevant government agencies. (July 19, 2012).

(By Sofia Wu)