Workers Paid Less Than Minimum Wage… Again!!

This is a second occurance since August 27, 2008.  The CLA came to a decision that the minimum wage will not be raised until the year 2010.   Here are the two stories… 

August 27, 2008
TAIPEI, Taiwan — The Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) decided yesterday to delay its decision for month on whether to increase the country’s minimum wage, based on the recommendations of a special committee assigned to examine the issue.

Government representatives on the committee argued that a minimum wage increase at this time of economic stagnation could push businesses to close down, said Mike Jen, president of the National Trade Union Confederation and a labor representative on the committee.

Committee members representing employers said they understood the workers’ situation but agreed that the decision on a minimum wage increase should be postponed, according to Jen.

However, Jen argued that it is precisely because of the current economic slowdown that the government should move to help low-income workers.

The CLA said that a decision can be expected in month’s time, after the Chung-Hua Institution for Economic Research presents a report on the impact of last year’s minimum wage increase.

The 22-member committee was composed of scholars and representatives from labor, the private sector and government.

Taiwan’s minimum wage was raised last year from NT$15,840 (US$502) to NT$17,280 (US$548) per month. But the labor unions argued that the increase was not sufficient to cover the daily basic needs of workers.

On the day when the committee meet, representatives of labor unions demonstrated outside the CLA building, asserting the right of workers to live with dignity and demanding that the minimum wage be raised at least 38 percent to NT$23,870.

 

December 16, 2008
Legislators slammed the Council of Labor Affairs for allowing employers to get away with paying their employees less then the minimum wage

By Shelley Huang

Lawmakers blasted the Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) yesterday for allowing employees’ monthly salaries to dip below the minimum wage when firms force them to take staggered unpaid leave.

In the midst of the economic downturn, many businesses are finding different ways to cut costs, including forcing employees to take days of unpaid leave each month. The CLA said that employers cannot force their staff to take unpaid leave. However, if an employee agrees to periods of staggered unpaid leave, an employee’s monthly salary can be cut in proportion to the number of hours not worked, even if the salary dips below the minimum monthly wage of NT$17,280.

At the legislature’s Health, Environment and Labor Committee meeting yesterday, legislators across party lines criticized the CLA for not acting in the best interests of workers.

“Workers who want to keep their jobs are too afraid to oppose their employers when they are asked to take unpaid leave. If the government allows businesses to pay employees less than NT$17,280, it is allowing them to ignore the minimum wage requirement,” Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator William Lai (賴清德) said.

Lai criticized the council for turning its back on workers and not gathering enough data on the labor market, such as how many employees are on unpaid leave.

“Pretty soon, workers are going to take to the streets in protest,” Chinese Nationalist Party Legislator Yang Li-huan (楊麗環) said. “Businesses are afraid of you [CLA], but workers are afraid of businesses. Many people are now only getting paid a few thousand [New Taiwan] dollars a month. How many families can live?”

Yang and several other legislators also accused the CLA of not making Taiwanese a higher priority than foreign workers. Yang proposed that at times of such high unemployment, businesses’ quotas for hiring foreign workers should be cut in half, except in the case of foreign caregivers, because their jobs are not easily filled by Taiwanese.

“Foreign workers don’t have to worry about unpaid leave, because they are protected by their contracts when they enter [Taiwan],” KMT Legislator Ho Tsai-feng (侯彩鳳) said. “Foreign workers are even allowed to work overtime.”

CLA minister Jennifer Wang (王如玄) replied by saying that the law provided equal protection for foreign and Taiwanese workers alike. She defended the council’s position by saying that the measure was first put into effect in 2001 by former minister Chen Chu (陳菊) of the DPP.

When asked whether the council had plans to cut the numbers of foreign workers, Wang said that the council had prepared plans for when the unemployment rate reached certain levels, but declined to elaborate when asked by reporters.

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~ by Lan on 2008 TueUTC2008-12-16T11:35:51+00:00. 15.

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