Thu, Jan 20, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Vietnam workers banned

TEMPORARY MEASURE The CLA has decided to stop allowing new workers into the country until Vietnam can locate more of its nationals who have run away

By Cody Yiu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Beginning today, the Council of Labor Affairs is placing a temporary sanction on incoming Vietnamese caregivers and domestic helpers until a problem of runaway workers shows significant improvement.

"Due to the high runway rates among Vietnamese workers who work in domestic settings, we have decided to put the importation of new workers on hold to leave the Vietnamese government more room to deal with their runaways," Kuo Fang-yu (郭芳煜), director of the council's Employment and Vocational Training Administration, said yesterday.

An exception applies to employers who wish to re-hire former Vietnamese domestic helpers or caregivers using the direct hiring method.

"Normally, the former Vietnamese workers have already established good working relationships with their employers. Therefore, they are not restricted by this sanction," Kuo said.

Reported Missing

According to the National Police Administration's statistics, as of Dec. 31 last year a total of 8,647 Vietnamese workers had been reported missing from their jobs.

The total number of Vietnamese workers in Taiwan as of that same date was 90,041, with 71,000 acting as either domestic helpers or caregivers.

On average, approximately 30,000 Vietnamese domestic helpers and caregivers enter the country every year to work.

Vietnamese workers currently make up about 28 percent of all blue-collar foreign workers in this country.

Once the sanction takes effect, workers from other countries are expected to fill the gap left by the Vietnamese.

Before announcing the measure, the CLA contacted Indonesian representatives in Taiwan to ensure that Indonesian workers could be brought into the country. A sanction on Indonesian workers was recently lifted.

"The representatives told us this morning that the process for importing Indonesian workers is on track. As soon as manpower brokers and employees have worked out the application procedures, these workers may come into Taiwan anytime," Kuo said.

Goodwill

Vietnam's labor department had promised to have repatriated at least 2,000 of its runaways by last month, as a gesture of goodwill toward the CLA.

Only 897 runaways were arrested, however, falling short of the target.

"Nevertheless, the CLA acknowledges the effort the Vietnamese government has made so far to crack down on their runaways," Kuo said.

The CLA said it has not set any indicators to assess the performance of the Vietnamese government in its crackdown efforts.

The sanction will be lifted as soon as a substantial improvement has been achieved.

Between October and last month, a total of 9,349 Vietnamese workers came into the country, with 1,816 running away.

As it might prove too challenging to simultaneously tackle the large influx of workers and crackdown on the numerous runaways, the CLA said maintaining the current number of Vietnamese workers would enable the Vietnamese government to focus on one problem at the time.

In May last year, the CLA placed a sanction on Vietnamese fishing crews due to the high number of missing persons. Taiwan began accepting Vietnamese workers in November 1999.

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