Because the government did not officially regulate the employment of most foreign workers, many workers were vulnerable to exploitation by employers,71 For instance, labor recruiters often lured Thai and Filipino workers to Taiwan by promising them certain job opportunities, but upon arrival in Taiwan, the workers often found that the employer withheld their passports and portions of their salaries as "finder's fees," and further, that their jobs, wages, and living conditions were much worse than promised. 72 In addition, the workers were not granted union protection, as illegal workers were not permitted to join labor unions. 73 Such abuses against Thai workers in Taiwan became so acute that one of Taiwan's senior Far East Trade Office advisers, Chang Tso-Wei, issued a statement warning Thai workers and the Thai Labor Department to be cautious about job opportunities Thai workers accepted in Taiwan. 74 The Far East Trade Office adviser explained that although Taiwan did not yet have any laws recognizing the status of most foreign workers, the Taiwan government was unwilling to deport foreign workers because of Taiwan's labor shortage.75 The apparent implication was that Taiwan was not in a position at that time to protect the interests of Thai workers.
The government explains that the Employment Service Act is meant to alleviate the labor shortage problem while avoiding the social problems that are created when foreigners live in a Chinese society.115 This statement suggests that the government is concerned about economic tensions, and perhaps even racial tensions, between local workers and foreign workers. It also appears that certain provisions of the Employment Service Act are
specifically designed to prevent foreign workers from establishing local ties and from obtaining permanent residency status. 116
For example, the Employment Service Act limits employment for foreign workers to one-year and two-year maximum terms, 117and prohibits blue-collar foreign workers from being married during their employment in Taiwan.'18 The government cites to Taiwan's population problem 119 and an increasing crime rate 12 as justifications for denying foreign workers permanent residency. It appears that one of the objectives of the government is to
maintain control over the activities of foreign workers in a manner that solves the labor shortage problem without encouraging foreign workers to immigrate to Taiwan.
Several labor unions have opposed the Employment Service Act for a variety of reasons. The National Federation of Independent Trade Unions ("NFITU") opposed the passage of the Employment Service Act for social reasons, decrying it as a discriminatory and racist policy because foreign workers and local workers are not treated equally. As promulgated, the Employment Service Act adopts many of the same social restrictions as the 1990 administrative order, 152 which allowed foreign workers to be hired as laborers in Taiwan only if they worked on the construction projects for the Six-Year National Development Plan, and only if they left Taiwan once the projects were completed. 153 For example, in order to discourage foreign workers from establishing ties with local people, the Employment Service Act and its regulations allow employers in the construction sector to require foreign workers to live in camps managed by the company. 154 The regulations also allow employers to require foreign workers to register before leaving their company dormitories at night. 155 Even worse, laborers from Southeast Asia are sometimes paid less than half the wages paid to local workers for the same job.156 NFITU favors "equal pay for equal work" for foreigners. 157 In April 1992, Thai workers found themselves backed by NFITU when the Thai government demanded that Taipei increase the wages of Thai workers in Taiwan. 158 The Taiwan government reacted negatively and temporarily suspended approval of work permits for Thai workers. 159
The Employment Service Act has not stopped the influx of illegal foreign workers. 165 In addition, it has not cured the problem of local employers and labor brokers abusing foreign workers. 166 Foreign workers still remain vulnerable to exploitation by employers who confiscate their passports, impose involuntary wage deductions, and extend their working hours without overtime pay.' 67 Labor brokers continue to demand exorbitant commission fees to be paid by monthly deductions from the foreign workers' wages. 168 Labor brokers make such demands even when
the job that the foreign worker ultimately obtains is a lower paying job with conditions below the standards that the labor broker had promised to the worker. 169
[ ] Many foreign workers cannot bear the pressure of owing a tremendous debt to labor brokers; many also cannot bear to let their families in the homeland know of their dire situations. As a result, some foreign workers commit suicide 173 and some run away from their assigned jobs to find other employment. 174
The Employment Service Act and its regulations may indirectly encourage employers to keep wages and working conditions low so that local workers will refuse those jobs and thus perpetuate a continual labor shortage.186
Second, Taiwan has encouraged the exploitation of foreign workers by importing foreign laborers without considering the effects of its policies on these workers. Taiwan has provided few protections for foreign workers
against unscrupulous employers and labor brokers. Moreover, the Employment Service Act and its regulations promote a situation where foreign laborers are treated inhumanely. By threatening blue-collar foreign workers with termination of employment upon a change of job or employer, or upon getting married, the Employment Service Act and its regulations allow for the abuse and exploitation of foreign workers and discourage foreign workers from reporting such abuses. It seems that the government is reluctant to step forward either to stop employers and labor brokers from abusing foreign laborers or to enforce the Labor Standards Law with respect to foreign workers.187
The government of Taiwan has taken an unrealistic approach towards foreign workers. In theory, many people are probably willing to go to another country for only a year or two in order to earn some money. However, when employers and labor brokers deduct most of the foreign worker's earnings and mislead the worker into accepting a vastly different job than he or she was promised or a job with intolerable working conditions, it is unrealistic for the government to expect that the foreign worker will be able to comply with the Employment Service Act. That is, if
foreign laborers are penniless after their employment term of one or two years, then they will need to stay in Taiwan to find another job because they will not have the money to return to their homeland or perhaps will be
reluctant to return home empty handed. If laborers are working under substandard conditions at jobs they did not wish to take in the first place, then they will most likely leave their designated jobs to find others.
hannes wrote:Oder wenn es denn Deutschland sein soll, können wir ja mal die Situation von philippinischen Altenpflegerinnenn in Taiwan und polnischen Altenpflegerinnen in Deutschland vergleichen. Das wäre weniger Äpfel und Birnen.
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