Minimum wage hike approved

By: Lauly Li

TAIPEI: The Executive Yuan yesterday approved the basic wage committee’s recent resolution, agreeing to increase the minimum monthly wage to NT$20,008 and raise the basic hourly wage to NT$120.

The policy is set to be implemented in July 2015, the Cabinet said, adding that over 2 million employees, including foreign employees, will benefit from the policy.

After hours of discussion, the representatives of the Basic Wage Deliberation Committee (BWDC) last Friday reached a consensus on the minimum wage hike, namely proposing to raise the monthly basic wage from the current NT$19,273 to NT$20,008 and the hourly minimum wage from NT$115 to NT$120. The 3.81-percent monthly wage hike is the highest rise seen in the past three years.

Given that one of the resolutions made by the BWDC last year was that only when the annual growth rate of Taiwan’s consumer price index (CPI) surpasses 3 percent will the Ministry of Labor (MOL) hold another minimum wage deliberation meeting, many have criticized Premier Jiang Yi-huah’s recent call to hold the meeting as an act disrespectful to the resolution.

Cabinet spokesman Sun Lih-chyun said that Jiang on Aug. 15 had a conference with representatives from 10 major labor unions, noting that the government had noticed that Taiwan’s CPI has held steady in recent years and has rarely broken the 3-percent mark.

Sun said, moreover, that during the first seven months of this year, the average food price index, which influences entry-level laborers most directly, has risen over 3 percent compared with the same period last year. The food price index even rose to 4.27 percent in July year-on-year, Sun added.

Therefore, the premier considered it necessary to reconsider the condition stated in last year’s BWDC meeting, Sun said.

The MOL on Aug. 25 held the first BWDC meeting but employers’ representatives boycotted it in protest of the Executive Yuan’s breaking of their promise to refrain from initiating changes unless the CPI rose by more than 3 percent. The employers’ representatives also complained that they were not given adequate notice ahead of the meeting. Six of the seven employees’ representatives participated in the Aug. 25 meeting.

In light of the absence of the employers’ representatives from the meeting, the newly appointed Labor Minister Chen Hsiung-wen said he would arrange for another meeting and persuade the employers’ representatives to participate and voice their opinions in the meeting.

On Aug. 29, after hours of grueling discussions on the matter, the representatives from employers, employees, the MOL, and academics finally reached consensus regarding a wage hike.

The BWDC also decided to form a task force and hold a meeting regarding the nation’s minimum wage related issues every three months, the Cabinet said.

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