Sat, Jul 12, 2003 - Page 10 News List

Business leaders question hiring quota stipulation

By Jessie Ho  /  STAFF REPORTER

Business leaders yesterday expressed discontent over a clause in the newly-passed free-trade port law requiring 5 percent of port laborers must be Aborigines, saying they may opt out of the plan.

"We understand the government's good intentions in trying provide for Aboriginal workers, but there are just not that many Aboriginal workers out there," said Rock Hsu (許勝雄), chairman of the Importers and Exporters Association of Taipei (台北市進出口公會) yesterday. "Some firms may consider circumventing the ports if they have difficulties hiring enough Aboriginal laborers."

The Statute Governing the Establishment and Management of Free Trade Ports, (自由貿易港區置及管理條例) stipulates that of the workers to be hired to work in the free-trade ports, at least 5 percent must be Aboriginal laborers. Companies establishing operation centers in free-trade ports failing to comply with the requirement will be fined.

Worker qualifications is another problem.

"Even if we can find enough Aboriginal workers, they necessarily cater to the needs of different business sectors," Hsu said.

A government official acknowledged the potential shortage of indigenous workers, saying that implementing the rule is "mission impossible."

"We're afraid that the rule will deter some companies from making use of the ports," said Ho Chun-hui (何俊輝), director of the legal department of the Council for Economic Planning and Development, which drafted the free trade statute. "For now, there are only 19,000 unemployed Aboriginal workers nationwide, and not every single one is capable of working in free trade ports."

Another industrialist also said the hiring quota is unreasonable.

"Some companies may end up employing unneeded Aboriginal workers to get past the rule," said deputy secretary-general George Lin (林添貴), of the Chinese National Association of Industry and Commerce (工商協進會).

The job guarantee for Aboriginals is not necessarily beneficial, one analyst said.

"The measure will instead reduce the competitiveness of Aboriginal workers, as some may stop improving their skills while under the government's care," said Hsu Song-ken (許松根), professor of industrial economy at Tamkang University.

"The right way to give aid to the Aboriginal nationals is through education programs, which will allow them to compete with general workers," Hsu said.

The DPP promised to propose a revision dropping the hiring quota from 5 percent to 1 percent in the next legislative session, DPP legislative caucus leader Chiu Chui-chen (邱垂貞), said yesterday.

However, the independent alliance that proposed the hiring quota is standing firm, regardless of the opposition from various sectors.

"The government and political parties hardly pay attention to creating job opportunities or ensuring the welfare of the Aboriginal people, which makes them the most disadvantaged group in the job market," said Chang Chun-chieh (張俊傑), a special aide to legislator May Kao (高金素梅), who represents Aboriginal groups.

Chang said Aboriginal people account for 1.5 percent of total population in the nation, and yet their jobless rate is three times the rest of the population's rate. Therefore, a 5 percent quota is reasonable, he said.

"We will not give in on this issue," he said.

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