Tue, Nov 16, 2010 - Page 2 News List

Lawmakers grill officials about Chinese workers

LOOPHOLESLegislators zeroed in on Young Fast Optoelectronics’ alleged practice of making use of workers from its factories in China to work in Taiwan

By Shelley Huang  /  Staff Reporter

The Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) and the Ministry of the Interior faced tough questions yesterday over what legislators called their failure to stop certain businesses from exploiting legal loopholes to illegally bring in workers from China.

In the past several months, labor activists and lawmakers have spoken out against what they see as unscrupulous practices by certain companies — among them Young Fast Optoelectronics Co Ltd — to illegally employ dozens of Chinese workers under the guise of “professional training.”

Young Fast, a key supplier of touch-screen components for HTC Corp and Samsung Electronics, allegedly brought groups of 20 employees from its Chinese factories to work 12-hour shifts at a manufacturing center in Taoyuan County.

Under current law, Chinese nationals are barred from working in Taiwan.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Yang Li-huan (楊麗環) said that despite mounting evidence that the allegations may have been founded, the council and ministry’s investigations into the matter were marred by incompetence.

DPP Legislator Huang Sue-ying (黃淑英) said the investigations were not prompt and took place only after the media broke the story. The fact that investigators had to spend several minutes changing into dust-free suits before they could enter the factory was another factor that could have given the company and its Chinese workers time to take precautions and prevented a thorough investigation, Huang said.

“The council is too passive,” Huang said. “It should have taken charge and investigated the matter thoroughly based on its professional judgment.”

Representatives from the company’s labor union who were invited to testify at the legislature said they saw Chinese workers swiping their cards to enter the factory to work, which contradicted claims by Young Fast that they were undertaking professional training.

Council of Labor Affairs Minister Jennifer Wang (王如玄) said technical factors, such as the inability to conduct surprise raids, had made the investigation more difficult.

However, she vowed to make improvements and collect enough evidence to build a strong case.

Minister of the Interior Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) also promised to address the root of the problem by strengthening controls on Chinese professionals and clearly defining what was meant by “professional training” and “business research.”

In related news, the CLA said it was confident it would meet the year-end goal of bringing unemployment down to 5 percent.

Wang said the current unemployment figure was 5.05 percent.

“The CLA is confident [about reaching the goal of 5 percent unemployment] because the Taiwanese economy continues to strengthen and businesses continue to create jobs,” she said.

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