Thu, Jan 26, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Foreign workers failed: activists

POORLY EXECUTED:The Taiwan International Workers’ Association said the Web site on which foreign laborers can look for a new employer ‘is in complete disarray’

By Abraham Gerber  /  Staff reporter

A Ministry of Labor promise to assist foreign laborers seeking a new employer has been poorly executed, protesters said yesterday, calling on the government to act as the agency for foreign labor contracts.

“After the passage of amendments to the Employment Service Act (就業服務法), the implementation has been a mess, with all of kinds of loopholes and a lack of oversight,” Taiwan International Workers’ Association member Susan Chen (陳素香) said, citing problems with the ministry’s Web site, which is intended to allow potential employers to directly contact foreign laborers whose contracts are due to expire.

“The amendments were passed in November last year, but the Web site is in complete disarray, with only an extremely small number of workers’ names posted,” Chen said.

A view of the Web site yesterday found 92 names of workers nearing the ends of their contracts, with Chen saying that at least 118 names — belonging to Indonesian workers employed by Hwang Chang — were missing.

Revisions to the Employment Service Act were intended to empower foreign laborers and cut their agency fees by removing the requirement that they leave the nation at the conclusion of their contract, which previously subjected them to having to pay another set of agency fees before continuing their employment in Taiwan.

Chen said that the language barrier and poor implementation has forced many workers to continue relying on agencies when they switch employers.

Agencies have little incentive to help the workers, unless they are paid illegal extra fees, she said, alleging that domestic agencies often receive the lion’s share of fees collected by their foreign counterparts to whom they provide quotas.

Domestic labor agencies are banned from collecting fees for arranging employment, while fees for other services are tightly regulated.

“We are in the process of asking the contractor to investigate the problems with the system,” Workforce Development Agency section chief Hsueh Chien-chung (薛鑑忠) said, adding that the agency had received the paperwork for the Hwang Chang workers and was unsure why their information had not appeared online.

The ministry has asked the New Taipei City Government to investigate allegations the workers were deceived about the length of their contracts and would allow them additional time to switch employers if the allegations were found to be true, Hsueh said, adding that a decision would be made before the workers’ contracts expire next month.

The ministry would investigate any allegations of illegal fee payments if it is provided with evidence, he said.

The ministry is only empowered to assistant Taiwanese looking for employment, he said, ruling out the ministry assuming the functions of a foreign labor agency.

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