Amid allegations that prominent electronics manufacturer Young Fast Optoelectronics had been using Chinese labor, opposition lawmakers yesterday urged the government to crack down on companies using Chinese labor in Taiwan under false pretenses.
Permits for Young Fast’s workers were reportedly issued after the company said that the workers would be in Taiwan for professional training.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Wong Chin-chu (翁金珠) said the case could be the tip of the iceberg, adding that the government “owed the public an answer.”
“Just how many more cases of companies illegally using Chinese workers under the cover of -professional exchanges will we find?” she asked in the legislature, adding that they were “taking jobs” away from Taiwanese workers.
“After all, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said that he would definitely not allow workers from China to find jobs in Taiwan,” DPP Legislator Yeh Yi-jin (葉宜津) said, referring to an election pledge Ma made in 2008.
According to the latest statistics from the National Immigration Agency (NIA), the number of -professional exchanges from China has doubled since 2008. About 1,000 so-called professionals from China came to Taiwan in the first seven months of this year, compared with a total of 1,301 last year.
The Chinese-language Next Magazine reported yesterday that the practice was especially widespread among major electronics manufacturers that have a strong commercial presence in China. The magazine wrote that Kaohsiung-based Advanced Semiconductor Engineering had 366 Chinese workers visit Taiwan last year. Since 2008, 443 Chinese workers from AU Optronics also took part in the program.
While the Act Governing Relations Between the Peoples of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (臺灣地區與大陸地區人民關係條例) forbids Chinese citizens from working in Taiwan, companies that fulfill certain criteria are allowed to apply in advance for teams of employees to visit Taiwan for professional development.
Visits are limited to four months per year and the participants are prohibited from engaging in “normal working behavior.”
Liao Wei-jen (廖為仁), the deputy director of the Bureau of Employment and Vocational Training at the Council of Labor Affairs, said violators would be fined between NT$200,000 (US$6,475) and NT$1 million and their Chinese workers would be deported.
He said the regulations meant the government “definitely has not opened up” to workers from China.
However, Chang Chi (張琪), deputy director-general at the NIA, the agency responsible for policing the program, admitted that spot checks were not conducted because of broad, and varying, definitions of what work entails. Instead, the NIA first conducts background checks on applicants. He added that the limited time Chinese workers were allowed to visit Taiwan along with the high cost of the program were “more than enough” to deter potential violations.