Student groups demand increase in minimum wage

Taipei, Several student groups protested outside the Executive Yuan Thursday to demand that the government raise the minimum monthly salary to NT$29,189 (US$975) and the hourly wage to NT$186 in one go, not gradually, as the premier had previously proposed.

Representatives of various groups, including an alliance against the commercialization of education and student organizations from National Yang Ming University and National Taiwan University, stood outside the gates of the building, sarcastically apologizing for dragging the country's average wage down.

Like migrant workers, young people who make less than NT$58,000 a month are the culprits who are dragging the average wage figure down, said alliance member Hsieh I-hung (???), adding that if they are excluded from the calculations, Taiwan's average salary would surpass that of the United Kingdom and would nearly catch up to that of the U.S.

Despite Premier Lai Ching-te (???) introducing a series of proposals to increase the wages of low-paid workers earlier in May, protesters demanded immediate action to increase the current monthly minimum wage of NT$22,000 and the hourly minimum of NT$140.

In response, Cabinet spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung (???) said that the government will tackle the hourly wage and atypical employee pay first, as these are issues that can be fixed immediately.

The Ministry of Labor put out a statement later in the day saying that it will treat the demands with the utmost seriousness and that its minimum wage committee will decide during the third quarter of this year how to adjust wages according to the country's economic development, price indices and other factors.

According to a Cabinet report in May, atypical workers -- those who have no fixed term of employment, including part-time workers, outsourced workers and workers on temporary contracts -- account for a large percentage of the low-wage population.

Their average salary, as of last May, was NT$22,550 per month, according to statistics from the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics, which is just barely above the mandated monthly minimum for Taiwan.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel