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Taiwan labour minister resigns over wage hike proposal

Publication Date : 27-09-2012


Taiwan's Council of Labour Affairs (CLA) Minister Wang Ju-hsuan yesterday announced her resignation during the interpellation in the Legislative Yuan immediately after she was notified that the Executive Yuan decided not to adjust the minimum wage as the CLA proposed.

President Ma Ying-jeou stated that he acknowledges the difficulties Wang faced and will attempt to persuade Wang to stay in her position.

The Executive Yuan decided yesterday that the minimum hourly wage will be adjusted to NT$109 (US$3.7) starting Jan 1, 2013, while the monthly minimum wage proposed by the CLA will be implemented only if quarterly GDP growth exceeds 3 per cent or the unemployment rate is lower than 4 per cent for two consecutive times.

Earlier yesterday, Wang made her position clear that the proposal of the CLA should be fully implemented and she had no intention of giving in. If the proposal was not passed, she would be fully responsible. She said she was in communication with the Cabinet and would fight until the last minute.

Wang stated that the conclusion reached by the CLA over the minimum wage should be respected because it includes different voices from all parts of society. She also said the mechanism has improved greatly since its establishment. Unlike confrontations in previous years, representatives of businesses and workers reached a consensus despite the dire economic conditions in early August.

After Wang made the announcement of her resignation, she sent a letter to officials and thanked them for their help over the past four years. She praised them for their efforts to fight for workers and to strive for positive change. Although she is going to leave her post, she urged her colleagues not to forget their unfinished mission and the reasons that they are in the council. No matter where she will be she will always fight with them, Wang said.

Democratic Progressive Party whip Ker Chien-ming praised Wang for her determination and effort. He said it is unprecedented for a premier to recant the decision of a meeting convened by the CLA to discuss the minimum wage. Ker said the premier's actions will jeopardise the future significance of the council.

DPP Legislator Chen Chi-mai said that the government should be responsible for the low GDP growth and high unemployment rate. The government, however, punished workers for its own incompetence, the lawmaker said.

The meeting held by the CLA concluded in early August that the minimum wage should be adjusted by 1.42 per cent, which was the inflation rate in 2011. Were this the case, workers being paid the minimum wage would not be worse off due to inflation.

After the CLA submitted this plan, Minister without Portfolio Kuan Chung-ming voiced his differing opinion. According to him, this adjustment, along with the gloomy economic condition, will create too huge a burden for private companies.


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