TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) members on Wednesday (Jan. 6) criticized a farm association in Nantou County for paying its members in communist Chinese Renminbi (RMB), while the Ministry of Labor (MOL) has warned that they could face a fine if they were found to have paid their employees with illegal tender.
On Wednesday, DPP Nantou County chapter member Tseng Tsung-kai (曾琮愷) and Shuili Township Mayor Chen Kuei-yu (陳癸佑), among other leaders, stood outside the Nantou County Government building and held placards such as "PLA warplanes circle Taiwan, Renminbi makes a mess of Taiwan" to protest the payment of members of the Nantou County Lugu Township Farmers' Association in Renminbi. Chen said that the county chapter had recently received reports that employees of the farmers' association had each received Chinese yuan in "overtime pay" in 2017 and called on the Nantou County government and judiciary to investigate whether this was an illegal act.
Tseng stated that he had received reports that in June of 2017 and either in December of 2016 or January of 2018, the Nantou County Lugu Township Farmers' Association allegedly paid its employees in Renminbi. Each member reportedly received the equivalent of NT$7,000 (US$250) in Chinese RMB, reported Liberty Times.
Chen said that based on an initial investigation, representatives, managers, and supervisors of the association brought more than 600,000 Chinese yuan (US$93,000) into Taiwan. Chen and Tseng both called for an investigation into the matter to determine if the funds had been used for association elections, money laundering, or other illegal activities, and to prevent the organization from becoming a tool of China's United Front activities.
In response, Lin Liang-cheng (林義能), director-general of the Lugu Township Farmers' Association, claimed that the organization opened an account in China to enable customers in the communist country to remit money when buying tea. However, it was difficult to remit 800,000 Chinese yuan to Taiwan and banks refused to exchange the currency for New Taiwan dollars.
Therefore, the funds were issued to members of the association within the legal limit as overtime pay. Lin claimed it is similar to the concept of "exchanging New Taiwan dollars with employees," adding that the employees can use the currency when traveling to China and swearing that the process was not illegal.
On Thursday (Jan. 7), the MOL responded to the allegations by saying that Article 22 of the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法) stipulates that wages must be paid in the legal tender, reported CNA. If an employer is based in Taiwan, it must pay its workers in the legal currency of the country, which is New Taiwan dollars.
The MOL stated that RMB is not legal tender in Taiwan. It then warned that if the association has been found to have paid its employees in illegal currency, it could face fines of between NT$20,000 and NT$1 million for violating the Labor Standards Act.