Wed, Jan 26, 2005 - Page 4 News List

Vietnamese worker sanctions slammed

MIGRANT LABOR Families who need caretakers for elderly or sick members are the hardest hit by the restrictions on the hiring of Vietnamese or Indonesians, according to brokers

By Cody Yiu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Manpower agencies for foreign migrant workers said yesterday that the temporary sanctions that the Council of Labor Affairs placed on Vietnamese caregivers and domestic workers last week has caused major concerns among employers.

According to Southeast Asia Human Resources Management and Consultation Co, an agency based in Taipei, families with elderly members requiring home caretakers prefer to hire either Vietnamese or Indonesian workers.

Although the council has lifted its sanction on Indonesian workers, Indonesia's labor department has yet to settle on fixed brokerage fees with manpower agencies in that country.

It's not clear when Indonesian workers might begin arriving here to work again.

"Families prefer hiring Vietnamese or Indonesians than those of other nationalities because they speak some Chinese," said Chen Mei-hsin (陳美心), manager of the Vietnamese affairs department at Southeast Asia Human Resources Management and Consultation Co.

"Filipina workers are more reluctant to learn Chinese. Since the elderly who need to be taken care of mostly speak Chinese, hiring Vietnamese or Indonesian workers is more convenient for many families," she said.

By rushing to place sanctions on Vietnamese workers, Chen said, the council overlooked the huge demand for foreign caregivers.

"It poses a huge problem for families with an elderly member or a patient. With no foreign caregivers available in the near future, will family members have to stop going to work and stay home to take care of their loved ones?" Chen said.

She complained that the Indonesia Trade and Economic Office has also frequently changed the application requirements for the importation of workers.

Although the sanction does not apply to the direct re-hiring of former workers, Chen said most employers still prefer going through manpower agencies because of the complexity of paperwork involved in hiring a foreign migrant worker.

Taiwanese caregivers are in short supply, Chen said, as most Taiwanese women find the job too exhausting, while the difficulty in hiring foreign workers has made the situation worse.

"The hardest thing to deal with when answering employers' questions about hiring Vietnamese and Indonesian caregivers and domestic helpers is that they do not understand the complexity of these issues," she said.

Meanwhile, the council said it did not want to push the Indonesia government for a rushed decision on the brokerage fee issue.

"Our understanding is that the Indonesian government is adjusting brokerage fees charged to migrant workers by their local manpower agencies. We would like to leave them room to discuss this issue," said Tsai Meng-liang (蔡孟良), a section chief at the council's Department of Foreign Labor Affairs.

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