Sat, Sep 08, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Groups slam migrant labor plans

DIVISIVE ISSUE:A proposal which would allow for an increase in the number of migrant workers is a step too far, with 440,000 already working in Taiwan, lawmakers said

Staff writer, with CNA

An opposition lawmaker and a group of activists voiced concerns yesterday over a government proposal that seeks to increase the foreign labor quota from 35 percent to 40 percent as part of an effort to attract overseas Taiwanese investors.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Cheng Li-chiun (鄭麗君) said at a news conference that she welcomes the initiative to lure overseas Taiwanese businesspeople to return to the country, but added that the proposed increase to the foreign worker quota is the wrong approach.

The proposal outlined by the Council for Economic Planning and Development (CEPD) on Aug. 30 will only worsen the issues of low salaries, unpaid leave and high unemployment in Taiwan, Cheng said.

Increasing foreign worker quotas to help the country’s economy is akin to quenching one’s thirst with poison, said Son Yu-lien (孫友聯), secretary-general of the Taiwan Labor Front, who also attended the news conference.

Son urged the Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) to review the proposal as the amount of foreign labor has already reached a record high of 440,000 and said the government should stop using foreign workers as a bargaining tool.

In response, Shiue Jain-jong (薛鑑忠), a section chief from the council’s Bureau of Employment and Vocational Training, said that companies will only be able to hire more foreign workers if there are actual vacancies, as the proposal was merely based on supplementary principles.

The issue of increasing the quota has yet to be discussed via a platform that will include the CLA, CEPD, academics, politicians and representatives from employer and labor groups, he said.

Migrant worker dilemma

‧ The proposal plans to raise a foreign labor quota from 35 percent to 40 percent.

‧ Some lawmakers have complained that allowing more migrant workers will worsen unemployment.

‧ Officials say migrant labor will only be allowed to fill actual vacancies.

‧ Migrant workers in Taiwan currently total 440,000.

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