Wed, Nov 08, 2017 - Page 4 News List

Dairy farm workers recruited

INITIATIVE:The Council of Agriculture has trained about 600 workers in the past year who have filled about 10 percent of the job openings in the agricultural sector

Staff writer, with CNA

A group of 50 people has been recruited by the Council of Agriculture to help the local dairy farming sector, which like many other old-economy businesses is plagued by a shortage of workers.

Council of Agriculture Minister Lin Tsung-hsien (林聰賢) on Monday said that it is one of the ways the council is trying to bring new blood into agriculture to avoid having to bring in foreign workers to fill the shortage of labor.

“The government would only consider hiring migrant workers on farms as a last resort to prevent a hollowing-out of the nation’s rural areas,” Lin said.

The 50 recruits are to help out at local dairy farms for six months after being trained for a month, Department of Farmers’ Services head Chu Chien-wei (朱建偉) said.

The council would only discuss with the Ministry of Labor the possibility of bringing in foreign workers for dairy farms if the domestic recruitment program does not work, Chu said.

“The Ministry of Labor would never agree to having foriegn laborers working on farms if we do not first try to resolve the problem” with domestic workers, Chu added.

The latest initiative is part of a training program to cultivate local agricultural talent which was launched a year ago.

The Council of Agriculture has trained about 600 workers who have filled about 10 percent of the job openings in the agricultural sector over that time, Chu said.

In related news, a referendum being held by the Migrants Empowerment Network in Taiwan has suggested a large majority of people continue to back migrant workers’ rights.

According to the latest update on the poll released on Friday last week, 6,355 ballots were cast from Sept. 17 to Oct. 29 on three issues.

Of those votes, 6,283 supported the right of migrant workers to switch employers freely, 6,296 backed giving foreign caregivers legal protection under the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法) and 6,290 favored abolishing the private brokerage system.

The mock referendum, in which anybody can vote, is being held in an attempt to give a voice to migrant workers and urge lawmakers to include them in the Labor Standards Act.

Foreign nationals working as live-in caregivers cannot switch employers freely, are not covered by the Labor Standards Act and invariably use brokers to find employment, which means they have to pay high brokerage fees.

The voting runs until Dec. 10, with 15 designated voting areas nationwide. The ballot opens every two weeks.

The Migrants Empowerment Network in Taiwan plans to announce the final results at a migrant workers’ parade on Dec. 17.

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