The head of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) in Taipei, the Philippines’ de facto embassy in Taiwan, has said he hopes more Philippine migrant workers will be hired directly in Taiwan to spare them the burden of hefty brokerage fees.
In an interview with the Central News Agency, MECO Chairman and Resident Representative Angelito Banayo said that progress had been made over the past years in lowering brokerage fees for migrant workers, but that “more can be done.”
Taiwanese recruitment agencies sometimes collaborate with Philippine brokers to charge workers hidden fees, Banayo said, adding that workers might borrow money from the recruitment agencies to pay for the fees and are often charged high interest rates.
“Those are things that have to be cracked down on,” Banayo said.
Philippine workers pay fees to brokers in their home country to secure a job in Taiwan because they cannot find such job openings on their own, the Taiwan International Workers’ Association (TIWA) said.
Brokers often charge the workers between NT$50,000 and NT$120,000 in fees, the association said, exceeding the maximum legal monthly salary.
The workers are often told that the fees include visa fees, airfare, training fees and fees for other documents, but many brokers leave the workers to pay these fees on their own, TIWA researcher Chen Hsiu-lien (陳秀蓮) said.
One way around the onerous fees would be for workers to be hired directly by Taiwanese employers, Banayo said.
He said his office is promoting direct hiring and that there would be further talks between Taiwanese and Philippine officials on expanding the effort.
“Hopefully we will see much progress in that,” he said.
At present, there are many obstacles to direct hiring, including the inability or unwillingness of smaller employers to spend time and money recruiting and vetting people in other countries.
Banayo agreed that the cumbersome paperwork involved in the direct hiring process could be frustrating and prevent employers from using the service.
“We’ll try our best to streamline those things, on our part,” he said.
Resolving these issues is important because migrant workers are important to Taiwan’s economy and their number is expected to increase, Banayo said.
Taiwan has an aging population and will need foreign workers, while the Philippines has plenty of young people, he said.
For example, while Taiwan has world-class agricultural technology, its farmers are aging and younger generations do not want to work on farms, Banayo said.
“So that is one area where Filipinos probably could help, in [maintaining] the productivity of your farms,” he said.
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