Labor minister touts minimum wage hike of at least 3%

10/07/2021 07:10 PM
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CNA file photo
CNA file photo

Taipei, Oct. 7 (CNA) Labor Minister Hsu Ming-chun (許銘春) told lawmakers on Thursday that the ministry's Minimum Wage Review Committee is likely to agree to raise the minimum wage by at least 3 percent when it meets on Friday.

Fielding questions from lawmakers at the Legislative Yuan about a possible minimum wage hike starting in 2022, Hsu said there would likely be an increase of at least 3 percent.

However, she stressed that the extent of the increase would not be determined until the committee convenes on Friday.

The current minimum monthly wage in Taiwan is NT$24,000 (US$857) and the minimum hourly wage is NT$160.

Hsu's comments reflected an estimate made by National Taiwan University Associate Professor Hsin Ping-lung (辛炳隆) during an interview with CNA earlier this month.

Hsin said the government is unlikely to freeze the minimum wage this year because the country has had positive economic growth and an increasing consumer price index over the past year.

Meanwhile, the Chinese National Federation of Industries, which represents 159 business associations in Taiwan, issued a statement on Thursday saying the government's plan to raise the minimum wage would further impact small and medium-sized businesses already suffering losses due to COVID-19.

The group cited a survey it recently conducted with 200 of its members that indicated 93 percent of respondents could accept an increase of no more than 3 percent.

However, the increase, if agreed upon by the review committee, will fall short of the expectations of labor groups, which have been calling for a hike by 6-8 percent.

Members of several trade unions gathered outside another business group, the General Chamber of Commerce, on Thursday to demand a bigger share of business profits for their employees, noting that government estimates in August indicated the economy will grow 5.88 percent in 2021.

They also argued that since the minimum wage was only raised 0.84 percent last year -- the lowest increase since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office in 2016, the increase this year should be bigger.

Meanwhile, Hsu also told lawmakers Thursday that if the minimum wage hike is confirmed, the government will focus on plans to provide subsides to companies that have been financially impacted by COVID-19.

However, she declined to provide further details.

Hsu also ruled out the possibility of only increasing the minimum wage in certain industries, saying that once the review committee reaches a decision and it is approved by the Cabinet, the policy will be rolled out in all sectors.

The committee is legally required to hold a minimum wage review meeting in the third quarter of every year, and if it decides to adjust the minimum wage then submits its decision to the Cabinet for approval. The Cabinet invariably follows the recommendation of the committee.

(By Wu Hsin-yun, Tseng Chih-yi and Teng Pei-ju)

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