The Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) yesterday said it had met its target of cutting the foreign workforce by at least 30,000 people this year.
Earlier this year, Council of Labor Affairs Minister Jennifer Wang (王如玄) said the council would cut the foreign workforce, mainly in the manufacturing, construction and technology industries.
The decision came amid pressure from labor groups demanding that the council reduce the foreign workforce to protect the jobs of Taiwanese workers, as unemployment had climbed since the start of the economic downturn last year.
The council yesterday said that in the past six months, it had slashed about 37,000 foreign jobs. The country has 341,000 foreign workers at factories, one of the main sectors employing foreign workers.
Council figures indicated that the number of foreign workers had steadily increased in the past years, peaking at 374,000 in July last year. Since then, numbers have fallen by thousands each month to reach 341,000 at the end of last month.
Cuts to the foreign workforce have met with opposition from some labor groups, such as the Taiwan International Workers Association, which said the council treated foreign workers as if they were disposable, sending them home as soon as the economy starts performing poorly.
But other labor groups urged the council to cut foreign labor to protect Taiwanese workers.
“I’m glad to hear the CLA managed to cut so much foreign labor within half a year,” said Son Yu-lian (孫友聯), secretary-general of the Taiwan Labor Front. “But it’s still important for the CLA to conduct a comprehensive review of its foreign labor policies. Does Taiwan really need so many foreign workers?”
He said many foreign workers faced hardships such as being forced to take unpaid leave and wanted to go home because they were not making enough money to cover their living expenses in Taiwan.