Sat, Nov 26, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Lawmakers, foreign workers urge regulation changes

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Professionals and businesspeople joined Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers at a legislative hearing yesterday to demand changes to regulations that they said make Taiwan unattractive to foreigners, white-collar workers and business owners.

DPP legislators Chung Chia-pin (鍾佳濱) and Yu Wan-ju (余宛如) collaborated with the Taiwan Thinktank to organize the hearing.

Yu said there are more than 662,000 foreign nationals holding valid work permits in Taiwan, and about 550,000 of these are caregivers or blue-collar workers.

About 17,000 people, or 2.58 percent, are foreign white-collar workers in the business, technical, engineering, media or professional sectors, teachers, researchers or missionaries.

Chung said Taiwan has to meet the challenges of globalization and the nation has a shortage of skilled workers, and it is time offer incentives and improved conditions to attract more foreign professionals.

“We have to face these problems now. There are foreign students who are studying here, and they want to stay and work in Taiwan. We have foreign professionals who are attracted by the friendly people and the lifestyle, but they get tired of the bureaucratic red tape, so they end up leaving,” he said.

Elias Ek, from Sweden, attended the hearing to talk about the problems he faced as a foreign worker. Living in Taipei for 17 years and married to a Taiwanese woman, Ek said that he is the founder and general manager of Enspyre, a B2B telemarketing firm in Taiwan.

Ek said he faces difficulty in his daily life and conducting business which Taiwanese do not, such as problems dealing with banks and applying for credit cards, and not being able to use e-commerce or make online payments because his ID number is different from those of Taiwanese.

“I went to a telecom service office to apply for a second mobile phone for a family member, but was told I cannot, because as a foreigner, government regulations mean I can only have one phone number,” he said.

“Because of the different ID number for foreigners, I am constantly reminded that I am a foreigner. My hope is to end the different treatment for people like me who have a family in Taiwan. Instead of a foreigner, I would like to be known as a Taiwanese citizen of Swedish descent,” he said.

Chung said he and DPP lawmakers would work on a labor bill and other laws which would lift the restrictions and relax rules on minimum salary, residency period requirements and professional work experience for foreign professionals.

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