Sun, May 12, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Council sets hiring rules for foreign farm workers

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

Dairy farms and local farmers’ associations are allowed to apply to recruit foreign workers, but they should employ local workers first if possible, the Council of Agriculture (COA) said yesterday.

Previously, foreign workers in the agricultural sector were only allowed to work in the fisheries and butchery industries.

After obtaining approval from the Ministry of Labor, the council on April 30 announced guidelines for hiring foreign workers, which authorizes owners of licensed dairy farms with more than 80 cows to apply to hire foreigners, the council said.

Work on dairy farms is usually dirty, difficult and dangerous, and therefore it is more challenging for owners of such farms to recruit locals, it said.

Farmers’ associations, agricultural cooperatives and non-profit agricultural organizations can also apply for foreign workers and dispatch them to work on farms growing crops, it said.

Foreign workers should be considered a “supplementary” labor force, and farm owners are advised to prioritize hiring Taiwanese or students on work holidays, COA Minister Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) told a news conference in Tainan.

Allowing foreigners to work on farms is not administrative idleness in the face of a labor shortage, as some local media have reported, he said.

The council would offer incentives to farms that hire domestic workers, in a bid to avoid affecting wages with the introduction of more foreign workers, Chen said.

Farm owners should file applications and obtain the council’s approval before they apply to hire foreign workers, Department of Farmers’ Service Deputy Director-General Su Meng-lan (蘇夢蘭) said, adding that they should comply with the ministry’s salary standards for foreign workers.

While foreign workers on dairy farms cannot change employers freely, farmers’ associations are allowed to dispatch them to different farms, given that work with crops is busier during sowing and harvesting, Su said.

The council has not received any applications by farmers, who are likely to be evaluating the new rules, she said.

Foreign workers are likely to begin working on farms from July, she added.

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