Taiwan's 'bread master' criticized for paying staff rock-bottom wage of NT$22K

Experienced baker reveals she was only offered NT$22K to work at Wu's bakery in Taipei

Wu Pao-chun (center).

Wu Pao-chun (center). (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- As attention has been drawn on Taiwan's "bread master" Wu Pao-chun (吳寶春) for his pro-Communist China political comments, a former applicant revealed that the starting pay for staff at the high-end bakery is a paltry NT$22,000 (US$712 )per month, outraging many Taiwanese netizens.

According to local media reports, an applicant to the Songyan branch of the Wu Pao Chun Bakery in Taipei said that Wu is an idol in the baking industry and should know how hard it is to make it in the business, but she was shocked by the low base salary of NT$22,000 per month, which came out to NT$26,000 to NT$28,000 with overtime and other allowances. She said that she already had six years of experience and was no longer a rookie, but she received the exact same pay as her apprentice and decided to give up the job.

Deputy Minister of Environmental Protection and social activist Chan Shun-kuei (詹順貴) said that the baker applied for the position at a time when Premier William Lai (賴清德) had been calling for employers to raise their salaries for workers. He said she was told that she would be working eight and half hours per day, with only a half hour for meal breaks, and would be expected to work one to two hours of overtime every day, reported Apple Daily.

Chan said that average salary of employees in the bakery only comes out to about NT$26,000 to NT$28,000 per month, plus an annual bonus worth one month's salary. Chan described this pay rate offered by Wu's shop as "close to humiliating."

Netizens found the pay absurdly low for such a high-end, prestigious bakery:

"Only give 22K? The industry's profit level is really that low? Besides, it's a famous bakery!"

"Only 22K in Taipei is really too low."

In Wu's defense, Shih Cheng-chiao (施政喬), the manager of the Kaohsiung branch, said that regardless of qualifications, the training always starts from zero. Although there are different salaries depending on seniority, it is true that the starting base monthly salary used to range between NT$22,000 and NT$28,000, according to the report.

Shih said that this year's starting monthly salary has been raised to between NT$26,000 to NT$32,000, but there is still a probationary period, after which the pay will be adjusted according to individual performance. He said that the bakery has two to three new recruits every month, but he not sure when the woman who complained had applied.

Shih emphasized that he already had 19 years of experience when he started at Wu's bakery and he too started with a base salary of NT$26,000.