Sunday, May 3, 2015

Low pay, long hours still a problem, survey shows

Low pay, long hours still a problem, survey shows

SYSTEM ABUSE:More than half of the workers polled say they do not receive overtime pay because their employers say their jobs are not covered by the law

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

Social Democratic Party convener Fan Yun, center, urges the legislature to enact laws to cater to the well-being of workers, at a press conference yesterday in Taipei.

Photo: George Tsorng, Taipei Times

While nearly three-quarters of Taiwanese employees work long hours, their hard work does not necessarily translate into higher pay, with more than 60 percent saying their current wages are insufficient to cover basic living expenses, a survey conducted by the Social Democratic Party (SDP) showed.
The poll, conducted from April 20 to Thursday with 886 valid samples, found that 73.3 percent of respondents have to work longer than their companies’ stipulated clock-out time.
“Although only 35 kinds of professions are permitted by the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法) to adopt the so-called ‘job responsibility system’ — under which no overtime pay is provided even if employees work inordinately long hours — as much as 58 percent of those polled believe that this often-abused system applies to their jobs,” SDP convener Fan Yun (范雲) told a press conference in Taipei yesterday morning.
Fan said that a majority of this 58 percent work in the service (14.5 percent), manufacturing (11.5 percent) and information technology (9 percent) industries.
Asked why they think their jobs are included in this system, 45.6 percent said because their employers told them so and 39.3 percent said their unreasonably heavy workload makes getting off work on time impossible.
“The survey results indicate that many employers in the country have either twisted the law and abused the responsibility system, or burdened employees with a workload that is supposed to be shared by more workers to cut down on personnel costs,” Fan said.
In terms of compensation, 62 percent of respondents said they are unsatisfied with their current salaries, mainly because they are not enough to pay for basic living expenses, the survey showed.
The poll also showed that 84.2 percent of those whose monthly wages range between NT$30,000 and NT$35,000 said they need more to be able to support themselves or their families.
“According to the survey, the most miserable group of Taiwanese workers are those who make between NT$35,000 and NT$40,000 a month, as they are more likely to work overtime than workers at other salary levels, at 91.7 percent,” Fan said.
Lin Chia-Ho (林佳和), an associate professor at National Chengchi University’s Department of Law, said the working poor are a social phenomenon prevalent in almost every age group, particularly university graduates aged between 25 and 34.
“The government’s intervention in the job market, such as its 22K policy [a policy implemented in 2009 in which the government subsidizes businesses’ hiring of new graduates with a monthly salary of NT$22,000] and schools’ academy-industry cooperation programs have only made young people victims of job exploitation at an early age,” Lin said.
Lin said it is the government’s obligation to take whatever action is necessary to increase corporate willingness to employ young people and provide them with a more friendly working environment.
The party issued several demands to the government, including raising the minimum monthly wage in proportion to the nation’s GDP growth; revising the Company Act (公司法) to require companies to share 20 percent of their annual surplus with employees; increasing the penalties against corporations violating employment standards; and refraining from raising the maximum limit on overtime work.

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