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Labor group calls for policies to address low wages, pension reform

09/15/2023 08:50 PM
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Members of the Taiwan Labor Front speak at a Friday press conference. CNA photo Sept. 15, 2023
Members of the Taiwan Labor Front speak at a Friday press conference. CNA photo Sept. 15, 2023

Taipei, Sept. 15 (CNA) A labor rights group on Friday called on Taiwan's presidential candidates to outline how they would tackle key issues such as low wages and state pension reform.

At a press conference, Taiwan Labor Front (TLF) Secretary-General Son Yu-liam (孫友聯) said that the situation faced by workers in Taiwan, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic, was challenging, owing to an unstable and worsening job market combined with persistently low wages.

Although the government has raised the minimum wage eight times in as many years, it only helped solve a portion of the problem, as a failure to enact a minimum wage law continues to plague Taiwan's longstanding problem of low salaries, Son said.

There should be policies making the wages of workers more transparent, so the fallacy that "long working hours and low wages mean greater competitiveness" in Taiwan can be quashed, he said.

The secretary-general went on to highlight problems such as gender inequality in the workplace and the likely impact on workers brought about by Taiwan's economic transformation. As such, he said the government needs to strengthen existing labor protection mechanisms in order to prevent anyone from being left behind in the process.

Regarding state pension reform, the secretary-general said there have been no new developments on the subject for the past decade, prompting people to feel financially insecure about their future after retirement.

According to the TLF, although the government has continued to inject subsidies to stabilize the Labor Insurance Fund -- Taiwan's main pension system for retired workers -- it is not a practical long-term solution as the pension system needs to be structurally reformed.

The labor group said there was a need for the Legislative Yuan to establish a special committee for it to gather various proposals and make decisions after evaluation so that pension reform can move forward.

The pension fund has been losing money for years and experts have warned that with Taiwan becoming a "super-aged society," the situation will worsen quickly if no action is taken.

According to Ministry of Labor statistics, the fund is projected to enter bankruptcy in 2028.

Son said the labor group looks forward to hearing from the presidential candidates about their policies during the election campaign.

(By Wu Hsin-yun and Ko Lin)


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