Thursday, July 10, 2008

Foreign labor policy to remain unchanged for a while: CLA

Thursday, July 10, 2008
The China Post news staff

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Cabinet-level Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) yesterday decided to keep its existing foreign labor employment policies for a while, but it will revise laws to allow foreign workers to enjoy a maximum stay of three years in Taiwan for every legal entry, a top CLA official said yesterday.

Pan Shih-wei, vice chairman of the CLA, announced the decision reached during the first foreign labor policy consulting panel meeting held by the CLA after the new government took office on May 20.

Pan said that the pay for foreign workers will remain hooked to the basic monthly labor wage, lest the foreign labor market should become out of control and undermine the benefits of domestic workers. Pan stressed that foreign workers can hardly replace domestic ones.

During the meeting, the consulting panel also rejected a request filed by the Chinese National Federation of Industries to allow the construction industry to introduce more foreign workers, on grounds that the jobless rate registered by domestic construction workers has remained high.

Meanwhile, whether the ratio of foreign workers employed to serve at the so-called "3K" industries will be boosted further from the existing 20 percent will not be determined until the end of the year, when the Bureau of Employment & Vocational Training will release a feasibility study report on the issue.

The so-called "3K' industries refer to the "kitsui, kitanai and kiken" industries, based on Japanese spellings for "hard, dirty and dangerous" jobs.

In addition, the ratio of alien labor allowed to take jobs for those investment projects valued at over NT$10 billion each will remain unchanged at the current range of 20 percent to 40 percent.

The only good news for foreign workers is that the CLA will amend the Employment & Services Law to extend the maximum stay of any foreign worker by one year to reach three years for each of their legal entries.

Immediately after taking office on May 20, Jennifer Ju-hsuan Wang, chairwoman of the CLA, did say that her CLA would soon move to review all the existing foreign labor policies.

Accordingly, local enterprises expected to get some positive responses to their calls for relaxing restrictions on employment of foreign workers during the consulting panel meeting. But local labor groups insisted that now that domestic jobless rate lingers at a high level, and as commodity price inflation pressure intensifies, it is inappropriate for the government here to ease entry for foreign workers.

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