Sat, May 31, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Minister suggests ban on hiring dispatch workers

Staff writer, with CNA

Amid criticism that the widespread use of dispatch workers is a major cause of the nation’s wage stagnation, Minister of Labor Pan Shih-wei (潘世偉) on Thursday said that government agencies should set a good example and bar the use of such workers.

Dispatch workers are people hired by employment agencies and contracted out to organizations for varying lengths of time. They represent a source of cheap and flexible labor for employers, but critics contend that the system is being abused and the workers do not get standard benefits guaranteed by law.

Pan suggested that government agencies stop filling jobs through employment agencies and gradually fill them with contract workers, who are protected by the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法).

The ministry is promoting a law stipulating that the number of dispatch workers should not exceed 3 percent of a company or a government agency’s work force.

However, the large number of dispatch workers in government agencies has become an excuse for business groups to oppose the restriction.

The Executive Yuan allows its affiliated agencies to use a maximum of 15,514 dispatch workers. The number of such workers totaled 10,296 people in the final quarter of last year, making government agencies one of the largest users of dispatch workers.

The Council of Agriculture was the central government agency using the most dispatch workers — 2,754 people — according to official statistics.

Coming in second was the Ministry of Economic Affairs with 2,265 people, followed by the Ministry of Health and Welfare with 978.

The council said it mostly used dispatch workers to fill a shortage of field-survey staff, while the economics ministry said most of its dispatch workers were working at state-owned enterprises.

In response to Pan’s proposal, Directorate-General of Personnel Administration Deputy Minister Chang Nien-chung (張念中) said it would be difficult to bar the use of dispatch workers in government agencies because of the need to reduce personnel costs.

Huai Hsu (懷敘), a section chief at the government agency, said that instead of banning dispatch workers, more focus should be put on protecting the rights and benefits of such workers.

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