Premier hoping for broader discussion on wage growth
Central News Agency
2014-05-09 10:56 PM
Taipei, May 9 (CNA) Under pressure to increase the minimum wage, Premier Jiang Yi-huah said Friday that the threshold for holding a meeting on the subject had yet to be met but the idea of convening one early could be discussed. Speaking at a legislative hearing, Jiang said a minimum wage review commission decided last year not to hold another meeting on the issue until Taiwan's consumer price index had risen by 3 percent, something that hasn't happened yet. He said that if a meeting were to be held before then, the opinions of labor groups, scholars and academics would all have to be consulted. Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin criticized the linkage between a possible minimum wage hike and inflation and asked the government on May 6 to have the commission meet as soon as possible to make a decision on the issue, the United Daily News reported Friday. The premier, meanwhile, declined to comment on a proposal by New Taipei Mayor Eric Chu to go beyond simple persuasion to get employers to raise wages, but said the proposal and the ideas of others could be discussed.

Taiwan's stagnant real wages, at the same level they were at 16 years ago, and the minimum wage have become hot topics of late, after labor groups protested against low pay on May 1 and inflation was reported on May 6 to have hit a 14-month high in April. Real monthly earnings averaged NT$44,739 (US$1,483) in 2013, lower than the average of NT$44,798 in 1998, despite economic growth of over 2 percent. Chu said on Thursday that the minimum wage is just one component of Taiwan's overall wage problem, and even when the minimum wage is increased 1.2 percent to NT$19,273 per month in July, it would not be high enough for people to live on. "The real problem is wealth distribution, which is determined by whether or not employers are willing to share profits with workers," Chu said. The New Taipei mayor proposed that tax incentives should be given to employers to encourage profit-sharing, even possibly raising taxes on companies that turned a profit but did not raise wages.

(By Wen Kuei-hsiang and Elizabeth Hsu)

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