Business leader blasts law

Staff writer, with CNA

Mon, Feb 10, 2014 - Page 14

The chairman of the Taipei Chamber of Commerce on Friday criticized a proposal by the Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) to increase the rights of “dispatch workers” as “a plan devised by people not living in reality.”

If the CLA’s draft proposal were to clear the floor of the legislature, “it could possibly trigger a wave of unemployment, threatening the country’s economic development,” Wang Ying-chieh (王應傑) said.

The proposal, which the CLA approved on Thursday, tightens regulations on hiring dispatch workers and clearly defines the relationship between staffing employment agencies, organizations using the workers, and the workers themselves.

Dispatch workers are temporary or contract workers who are employed by staffing agencies and “dispatched” to companies based on a service agreement. They are usually cheaper than full-time workers and give companies flexibility in their hiring practices. Some employers have abused the system, however, using dispatch workers as full-time workers to save money.

Under the CLA plan, the number of dispatch workers an enterprise or government agency could hire would be limited to up to 3 percent of the organization’s total workforce. Violators would be fined NT$90,000 (US$2,967) to NT$450,000.

The draft proposal also stipulates that the workers must be paid the same as directly hired employees doing the same work.

They would also have the right to ask to become an employee of the enterprise at which they are working if they have served there for at least one year, but the plan does not specify any punishment for violating the clause, according to the CLA.

Wang said the cap on the number of dispatch workers who could be hired and the idea of “equal pay for equal work” would hurt the competitiveness of Taiwanese enterprises.

Businesses need flexibility and efficiency in their operations, Wang said, and dispatch workers allow them to shuffle their workforce based on the existing economic climate and seasonal demand.

The planned regulations would affect an enterprise’s ability to control its orders, jeopardizing its long-term development, Wang argued.

Council of Labor Affairs Minister Pan Shih-wei (潘世偉) said the new regulations were necessary because the practice of dispatching and employing contract workers has been abused.

According to data from the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics, there were over 131,000 dispatch workers in the private sector in 2011, or 1.64 percent of the total number of employees. However, Pan said that the figures may not be representative, citing a CLA survey which found that 5.4 percent of respondents said they had experience working as a dispatch worker.

The Directorate-General of Personal Administration said that as of the third quarter of last year, the Executive Yuan was using 10,365 dispatch workers, under the proposed 3 percent ceiling.