Taiwan's presidential hopefuls pledge to boost minimum monthly wage
Taipei, Nov. 29 (CNA) Two of Taiwan's three presidential hopefuls on Wednesday proposed raising the minimum monthly wage from the current NT$26,400 (US$845) if they are elected, as they pushed to garner support from voters ahead of the Jan. 13 elections.
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government will implement the "minimum wage bill act" that includes salary increases, the DPP's presidential candidate Lai Ching-te (賴清德) said at a Taipei forum where two other presidential candidates were also present to address labor issues.
Lai, the incumbent vice president and the DPP's chairman, was referring to a draft that proposes raising Taiwan's monthly minimum salary by 4.05 percent to NT$27,470.
The increases will affect around 1.79 million salaried employees and 600,000 hourly wage earners, the Ministry of Labor's statistics showed, but they will not apply to live-in migrant caregivers and domestic helpers, who are not covered by Taiwan's Labor Standards Act.
The draft has been approved by the Cabinet and sent to the Legislature for review.
Meanwhile, the main opposition Kuomintang (KMT) presidential candidate, Hou Yu-ih (侯友宜), proposed a greater increase.
Hou said, if elected, he will raise the minimum monthly wage to NT$33,000.
He also touched upon raising the tax-deductible rates for companies that implement pay hikes for their employees, without giving specifics.
Those who have children under the age of 12 or a net annual income of less than NT$560,000 can also enjoy tax deductions, the New Taipei mayor said.
Addressing a related issue, Taiwan People's Party (TPP) presidential nominee Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) said that the core reason behind the problem of low wages among young people lies in Taiwan's education system, which lacks practical lessons.
"Students lack the capacity to fulfill societal requirements. Therefore, essential reforms must be put in place," he added.
The three candidates also addressed the demand made by a coalition of trade unions that the minimum required contributions of companies to employee pension accounts be increased to improve the finances of workers when they retire.
Under Taiwan's Labor Pension Act, employers must put an amount equal to at least 6 percent of an employee's salary into the employee's pension account every month. The employee can then collect the total amount contributed as a lump sum or monthly annuity after they turn 60.
DPP's Lai said once he's elected president, a system will be established to encourage employers to increase the current contribution rate.
Hou of the KMT proposed the idea of convening a national conference to reassess the current contribution rate, a suggestion that was seconded by the TPP's Ko. Ko also mentioned his intention to "incentivize" companies to raise the contribution rate if elected.
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