Authorities in Nantou County’s Jhushan Township (竹山) arrested five runaway migrant workers who had taken temporary jobs in the area’s tea plantations and warned employers not to breach labor laws by hiring foreign nationals who do not have a valid work permit.
A patrol squad, headed by Yenping Precinct chief Chang Kung-wu (張功武), stopped three males and two females on a street in Jhushan on Wednesday morning.
The group had attempted to evade the officers, Chang said, adding that they questioned them and asked for identification.
“All five are Vietnamese, but their work permits expired some time ago,” Chang said. “They were waiting for a truck to pick them up to go into the mountains for agricultural work on tea plantations, but were unable to provide details on their employer.”
The group was taken to a detention center for foreign nationals in Tsaotun Township (草屯), which is run by the National Immigration Agency, he said.
“Currently it is the autumn tea harvest season,” Chang said.
“There are quite a number of tea plantations in mountains around Jhusan and Lugu (鹿谷) townships. So we see many trucks and vans taking people up the mountain roads for harvesting work,” he said.
He urged tea plantation operators to obey labor regulations, urging employers not to try to save on labor costs by hiring foreign workers who have expired work permits and would be violating the law by taking on jobs without the proper paperwork.
Chang said that employers found to have breached the Employment Service Act (就業服務法) could be fined between NT$150,000 and NT$750,000.
In a separate incident, 18 unregistered migrant workers were arrested last week at a high-rise construction site in Dali District (大里) in Taichung.
A Taichung police official said officers received a tip-off regarding a number of foreigners allegedly working illegally at the site, so the immigration agency’s special operations unit investigated on Monday last week.
Most of the workers were Vietnamese with expired work permits, the official said, adding that they were willing to take the jobs despite the risk of getting caught because construction work can pay well in Taiwan compared with wages for similar employment in Vietnam.
The official said the employer of the workers would face prosecution.
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