Wed, Dec 09, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Taiwan may raise wages for Chinese crew on local fishing vessels

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

Taiwan may raise wages for Chinese crew working on Taiwanese fishing boats before the fourth round of cross-strait talks to secure China’s help in streamlining the system used to hire such workers, a fishing official said yesterday.

The anonymous official from the Fisheries Agency said the decision may be made today, when Kao Koong-lian (高孔廉), vice chairman of the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF), meets Chinese officials in China’s Fujian Province to finalize the details of the fourth round of talks between Taiwan and China.

The negotiations will be conducted by SEF Chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) and his Chinese counterpart Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) in Taichung later this month.

Fisheries Agency chief James Sha (沙志一), who will take part in the preparatory meeting along with Kao, is expected to broach the matter with Chinese officials, the official said.

Taiwan could propose to raise the monthly wage of Chinese crew from NT$12,000 to NT$14,000 per month, still under Taiwan’s minimum monthly wage of NT$17,280.

The figure would be higher than the NT$12,000 typically paid to Indonesian crew and the NT$13,000 paid to Filipino crew, the official said.

There are 4,669 Chinese crew on Taiwanese near-shore fishing vessels, compared with 4,485 from other foreign countries, and 12,000 to 13,000 Chinese on Taiwanese deep-sea fishing vessels, which accounts for 40 percent to 45 percent of foreign workers on those ships.

Taiwan has asked for Chinese cooperation in streamlining the system to employ Chinese nationals on Taiwanese fishing boats. In exchange, China asked that Taiwan raise the wages for Chinese.

Under the revamped system, Taiwanese fishing boat owners would be able to recruit crew through Chinese associations set up by state-run companies rather than through brokers.

The associations in turn would keep information on potential workers, including their ID numbers, photos and proof of training, the official said.

Kao and his delegation will also work out an agreement with Chinese officials to standardize inspections and quarantine for agricultural products, a source close to the negotiations said.

The source said Taiwan wants to set up an official channel of communication with China to keep each other informed on regulations and be able to ask Chinese officials any questions as they arise.

Taiwan may also ask Chinese authorities to expand their standards on pesticide residues during the meeting.

China has standards for 161 agricultural chemicals — compared with 657 in Taiwan. Substances not covered by the standards are banned altogether, which limits Taiwanese exports to China despite their high quality, the source said.

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