Business groups object to proposed wage increase
Central News Agency
2014-08-15 10:32 PM
Taipei, Aug. 25 (CNA) Major business groups expressed opposition to an increase in the minimum wage Friday after Premier Jiang Yi-huah indicated he would ask a screening committee to discuss adjustments to base pay. Tsai Lien-sheng, secretary general of the Chinese National Federation of the Industries, and Lai Cheng-I, president of the General Chamber of Commerce of the Republic of China, both said the timing "is not appropriate." Tsai's opposition focused on the premier's suggestion of scrapping a policy that wage hikes can come only when the consumer price index grows 3 percent annually. He said that if those conditions are met, businesses will not oppose increasing the minimum wage. He argued that the wages of local laborers are already higher than the minimum wage, and any adjustments will only benefit foreign laborers, diminishing business competitiveness by increasing costs.

Lai meanwhile pointed to economic growth this year estimated at more than 3 percent and the minimum wage increase implemented last month, which pushed monthly salaries to NT$19,273 (US$644) from NT$19,047. He called for laborers to patiently await the next adjustment. Businesses will agree to wage hikes if the economy shows an obvious rebound, he added. At the same time, labor representatives and lawmakers applauded the Premier's remarks. Chuang Chueh-an, president of the Taiwan Confederation of Trade Unions, was positive on the government's stance and expressed hope for substantive action. Legislator Chiang Huei-chen of the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) said the Cabinet has been "pragmatic" and that the wage adjustment system should be more flexible. She also expressed hope this time minimum salaries can be upped to NT$20,000 a month. Tsai Chin-lung, also of the KMT, said he hopes businesses will share their wealth from the economic rebound this year with workers, though he will respect any decision made by the screening committee. Legislator Chao Tien-lin of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said the wage should be increased to NT$20,000 right away to show "the effects of policy." Tsai Chi-chang, DPP caucus whip, said it is a good thing for the Cabinet to be concerned about laborers' wages, noting that in the past, the government has refrained from expressing its views when the issue was brought up in the Legislature. But he doubted the government's goodwill, noting that it chooses only to show concern as the Nov. 29 elections draw near. (By Huang Chiao-wen, Chang Ming-hsuan and Lilian Wu)

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