Government officials yesterday dismissed a media report that linked a lack of growth in wages to the increasing use by manufacturers of cheaper migrant workers.
Speaking at a legislative hearing, Minister of Labor Pan Shih-wei (潘世偉) said there is no evidence indicating a connection between low salary levels and an increase in migrant workers, and the argument needs to be backed up with “more careful analysis and stronger proof” to be treated seriously.
Workforce Development Agency Director-General Liao Wei-jen (廖為仁) told lawmakers that although there have been studies to determine whether use of foreign laborers is connected to low pay for Taiwanese workers, a direct link between the two has not been proven.
He said the increase in foreign blue-collar worker numbers in recent years is due to a rise in labor needs in industry.
The labor officials were responding to a report in the Chinese-language Apple Daily, which said that there are 502,966 blue-collar foreign workers in Taiwan, the first time the number has topped the half-million-mark.
The Apple Daily report said the foreign worker population grew by 100,000 over the past three years alone, partly due to the government’s easing last year of the quota on foreign workers undertaking “dirty, dangerous and demanding” jobs.
Citing a labor rights activist, the report said the increase in foreign workers is one of the main causes of stagnation in Taiwan’s wages because it allows employers to push down salary levels.
Official data show that real monthly earnings averaged NT$44,739 last year, less than the NT$44,798 average in 1998, despite an average economic growth rate of more than 2 percent during that time.