Labor group slams MOL for favoring foreign workers over locals

Taipei, The Taiwan Labor Front on Tuesday accused the government of introducing a proposal that could favor foreign laborers over locals, which it said is a violation of the Employment Service Act.

The Ministry of Labor's (MOL) proposed measure allows returning Taiwanese businesses to prioritize the recruitment of foreign laborers over locals, thus violating the Employment Service Act, Taiwan Labor Front Secretary-General Sun Yu-lien said.

The new proposal is part of the government's three-year action plan (2019-2021) to encourage and assist Taiwanese enterprises based overseas to return and invest at home.

As part of the action plan, the government has implemented integrated policy measures focused on resources and services such as land, water, electricity, labor, taxation and financing, to help returning Taiwanese companies set up factories in Taiwan.

The MOL proposal allows Taiwanese businesses that have never set up factories in Taiwan or those that invest above a certain amount or create a certain number of jobs to hire half of their allowed quota of foreign laborers for one year before the government checks on them to confirm if the ratio of local to foreign workers is met.

The existing Act stipulates that before hiring foreign workers in the manufacturing industry, companies must first recruit locals based on a certain salary level, and only when their needs cannot be met locally are they allowed to hire foreign workers.

However, Sun said the new proposal creates a loophole for cost-cutting companies. As a result, a company that plans to open a plant with 200 employees -- at a ratio of 80 foreign workers to 120 local workers -- would effectively be able to hire 40 foreign workers and no local workers in the first year, he said.

According to the MOL, Taiwan currently has a five-tier system -- with an upper limit placed on foreign laborers as a percentage of the total workforce at 10 percent, 15 percent, 20 percent, 25 percent and 30 percent for different categories of companies with dirty, dangerous and demanding work conditions, with a ceiling of 40 percent where necessary.

The proposal is a direct violation of the Employment Service Act, Sun said, adding that it is the responsibility of the labor ministry to prioritize the rights and interests of local workers.

Hsueh Chien-chung director of the MOL's Cross-Border Workforce Management Division, said the proposed measure would not exempt returning businesses from their obligation to follow existing processes when hiring foreign workers.

It is currently only a proposal and the Qualifications and Criteria Standards for Foreigners undertaking jobs specified under Article 46.1.8 to 46.1.11 of the Employment Service Act will have to be amended before the new rule can be implemented, Hsueh said.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel