Ma backs equal pay for Taiwan, foreign workers
ROC President Ma Ying-jeou said March 21 that foreign laborers working in Taiwan are entitled to receive the same wages as local citizens.
In the long run, it is not cheap labor costs that will make Taiwan’s goods competitive on the world market, but innovation and the successful branding of local products, according to Ma.
The president added that as a strong defender of human rights, he was also opposed to the idea of having two different pay scales. “Salaries of foreign laborers are a human rights issue as stipulated by the International Labor Organization.”
Ma, who doubles as chairman of the ruling Kuomintang, made the remarks after a meeting of the KMT’s Central Standing Committee, during which party members discussed whether to unify the wage levels of local and foreign workers.
Earlier this month, Wang Ju-hsuan, minister of the Cabinet-level Council of Labor Affairs, said the government will raise the nation’s minimum hourly wage from the current NT$103 (US$3.43) to NT$115 in the third quarter this year in response to rising consumer prices.
The announcement has since aroused conflicting opinions. The CLA insists that foreigners and locals should receive the same salaries; but the private sector and even some government agencies, most notably the Ministry of Economic Affairs, are opposed to unified wages, on the grounds that such a move would hurt the economy.
“The cost of foreign labors in Taiwan is already lower than that in Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea,” Wang said. “With Thailand and Indonesia making it clear that they will not export foreign laborers in the future, Taiwan could end up in a position where it cannot find any foreign help.”
In response to the divergence of opinion among various government agencies, Premier Sean Chen said March 21 that the Cabinet will hold cross-ministerial meetings to settle the matter. (HZW)