Sat, Apr 21, 2012 - Page 2 News List

Hualien’s stone industry facing worker shortage

Staff writer, with CNA

The stone processing industry in Hualien County is facing a serious labor shortage since demand for domestic stone has increased following a government crackdown on stone smuggled from China, a representative of the county’s stone industry said yesterday.

The industry faces many challenges in recruiting workers, as even those from Hualien County prefer working in other parts of the nation due to the poor conditions and the intense hardship of the work, said Chen Fu-tai (陳富台), an official with the Taiwan Marble Association.

To add to the hiring woes, the Employment Service Center in the eastern county has been unsuccessful in pairing potential employees with suitable companies, said Tu Chia-sheng (杜家聲), the center’s head.

Last year, companies in the stone processing industry in Hualien County had 300 job vacancies.

Of the more than 800 job seekers who applied, only 36 were successful, indicating a pairing success rate of less than 5 percent, Tu said.

Tu said that the nation’s western counties provide better working conditions and job opportunities, which attract workers from the east.

If workers were willing to learn and endure the hardships of the industry, Hualien County’s stone industry would be willing to offer higher pay to attract workers, Tu said.

Taiwan’s stone processors are willing to do anything they can to keep people in their employment, including providing transport for them, Chen said.

The smuggling of processed stone goods from China in the past three to five years has seriously impacted the local industry and it was not until last year that the government imposed strict regulations to put an end to the smuggling. Since then, the domestic industry has begun to flourish again, Chen said.

The crackdown has seen domestic demand increase by 25 percent so far this year compared with the previous year, Chen said, adding that annual output is expected to grow by NT$5 billion (US$169 million) this year compared with last year.

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