Thursday, March 5, 2015

KMT puts pay raises at top of agenda

KMT puts pay raises at top of agenda

ELECTION PLOY?The Democratic Progressive Party said that the higher salaries for public servants sought by the KMT might not trickle down to private-sector workers

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

Directorate-General of Personnel Administration Minister Frank Huang, left, and Premier Mao Chi-kuo answer questions about civil servant pay raises during a question-and-answer session at the Legislative Yuan on Tuesday.

Photo: Chen Chih-chu, Taipei Times

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus yesterday said it will work in this legislative plenary session toward amending four labor-related laws to secure better salaries and bonuses for workers.
As GDP growth is expected to reach 3.78 percent this year, alongside an increase of NT$140 billion (US$4.5 billion) in tax revenue last year, economic gains should be shared with the public, the KMT caucus said at a news conference.
KMT deputy caucus whip Liao Kuo-tung (廖國棟) said Taiwan would continue to see a brain drain if wages remain relatively low, especially as Hong Kong and China plan to raise salaries for public servants.
The proposed amendments to the Company Act (公司法), the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法), the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Act (中小企業發展條例) and the Factory Act (工廠法) — dubbed “four laws for pay raises” by the KMT caucus — have been placed at the top of this plenary session’s agenda, the caucus said.
“While Article 29 of the Labor Standards Act stipulates that enterprises should hand out bonuses to workers if they have surpluses, no punishment is stipulated for noncompliance. The proposed amendment would introduce a fine of between NT$500,000 [US$15,900] and NT$5 million to assure the act’s implementation,” KMT Legislator Alicia Wang (王育敏) said.
Since the minimum wage is to be increased by 3.81 percent in July, “the raise for workers in general should be at least 3 percent, as well,” Wang said, calling for support from businesses.
The caucus’ announcement came one day after KMT Legislator Liao Cheng-ching’s (廖正井) called for a 3 percent raise for civil servants next year as he questioned the Cabinet on its policy report on the legislative floor.
Liao said his proposal was not just about a pay raise for civil servants, “but a raise for the general public,” as history shows that the economy and salaries in general could be boosted by higher salaries for civil servants.
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said that a raise for civil servants is worth discussing.
However, “it should be put on the table along with taking national finance, social fairness and generational justice into consideration and at a more appropriate time,” DPP spokesperson Cheng Yun-peng (鄭運鵬) said.
“Tabling a raise proposal when elections are in the offing would make people feel that it is merely a pre-election sweetener. It would also put civil servants in the spotlight, which is unfair to them,” Cheng said.
“A pay raise given to civil servants in 2011, ahead of the 2012 presidential election, failed to inspire a general pay raise in the country,” Cheng said.
Instead, it was a burden on the national coffers and aggravated the pension fund deficit, putting younger civil servants in danger of not being able to receive the pensions they are entitled to, he said.

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