The legislature yesterday voted to extend the maximum length of employment for foreign migrant labor in blue-collar sectors by three years, a move characterized by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus as a “reward” for entrepreneurs endorsing President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) in Saturday’s presidential election.
Under the amendment to the Employment Services Act (就業服務法), migrant laborers working in marine and fishing-related industries, in households as foreign caregivers, or in the construction industry cannot return to Taiwan for a new contract as migrant workers after working for the maximum 12 years in the country.
The current maximum length of employment is nine years.
The amendment was passed yesterday after the legislature adopted a motion earlier yesterday to hold a two-day provisional session. The session began later yesterday afternoon and will continue today.
DPP Legislator Tsai Huang--liang (蔡煌瑯) accused the KMT of passing the amendment to the act as a way of rewarding entrepreneurs who expressed support for the so-called “1992 consensus” to boost Ma’s electoral chances, saying such a reward came “at the expense of local workers.”
“Businesses and employers will profit most directly from the revision because of the leverage available from cheap labor. Local laborers will suffer because they will be squeezed out of jobs in favor of migrant workers,” Tsai said.
The extension could also -further delay the introduction of a much-needed nursing system for seniors who need long-term care, which, once established, would ease the burden on families caring for seniors that do not qualify for foreign caregivers, and create job opportunities, Tsai said.
Red Cross Society of the Republic of China head C.V. Chen (陳長文) was the most renowned advocate for the revision.
Last January, Chen appealed to lawmakers to extend the length of time foreign workers could stay in the country to 12 years because his son’s Filipino caregiver’s stay in the country was set to expire in May. Chen said that the caregiver was of crucial importance to his son, who is almost completely blind and has serious physical disabilities.
The amendment had stalled in the legislature because of concerns that it could have an adverse impact on job opportunities for local workers.
Other amendments that also cleared the legislature were revisions to the Organic Regulations for Irrigation and Water Conservancy Associations (農田水利會組織通則), the Farmers’ Association Act (農會法) and the Fishermen’s Association Act (漁會法).
The major change in the Organic Regulations for Irrigation and Water Conservancy Associations saw a transfer of regulatory power for such associations from local governments to the Council of Agriculture.
The amendments to the last two acts entails the establishment of a national federation of provincial farmers’ associations and local farmers’ associations, and the establishment of a national federation of provincial fishermen’s association and local fishermen’s associations.
KMT Legislator Nancy Chao (趙麗雲) said the revisions corresponded to the formation of the five special municipalities in December 2010.
In response, Tsai said the purpose of the three amendments was to help the KMT consolidate its control over important social and economic operative organizations and thus continue to control local factions.