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Grumbling about low wages in Kaohsiung

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Re: Grumbling about low wages in Kaohsiung

Postby SillyWilly » 01 May 2012, 08:42

Bigduke6, overt and grievous exploitation of low wage or immigrant labor should be guarded against at all cost. I agree. Take for example Foxconn in China. Now that would classify as grievous exploitation. I'm also not downplaying the severity of some forms of exploitation of foreign teachers in Taiwan, but the beauty of the free market is that those who feel exploited or treated unfairly can quit and seek life elsewhere in the ESL industry. It's especially easy for those who have "open work rights." Just my humble opinion. :2cents:

Maybe I'm missing your point about "Taiwan government treating foreign workers disgracefully." If you can give me an example of said treatment, it would be helpful. Thanks.
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Re: Grumbling about low wages in Kaohsiung

Postby Abacus » 01 May 2012, 09:04

bigduke6 wrote:Willy, you do not have to lecture me about free markets. I have done business in many countries and am well aware of where gov intervention is positive or negative for an economy.
I am also well aware of supply and demand, free markets, positive or negative externalities, wage price spirals, and any other economic principals you would like to discuss. I can discuss with you for hours if you wish.
I am not talkin about any type of protectionist policy. I am simply stating that the way foreigners are treated by the gov is an absolute disgrace, and foreign workers, even blue collar should have some basic rights which prevents any type of exploitation.
This has jack to do with a free market economy which btw, I am a strong proponent of.


Just to interject into your conversation but I think it's laughable that native teachers can be considered to be anywhere close to being exploited if they are in legal jobs. Most of the low paying jobs are also cutting corners when it comes to labor/health/tax payments. The teachers that are being exploited are the ones that sign illegal contracts and that is something that is going to happen even if there was more gov't regulation because they are already operating outside the law.
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Re: Grumbling about low wages in Kaohsiung

Postby tomthorne » 01 May 2012, 09:18

The working visa regulations are clearly a disgrace and give the employers an enormous advantage during pay negotiations which skews the market. If the government wanted, or cared, to intervene then that would be the first port of call IMO.
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Re: Grumbling about low wages in Kaohsiung

Postby SillyWilly » 01 May 2012, 10:06

tomthorne wrote:The working visa regulations are clearly a disgrace and give the employers an enormous advantage during pay negotiations which skews the market. If the government wanted, or cared, to intervene then that would be the first port of call IMO.


Good example, but does it really skew the market price of ESL wages by much? I don't think so. I agree it does give the upper hand to the ESL employer because your (job) ARC is valid only as long as you work for your employer. But barring a few inconveniences ( leaving your employer before contract expiry, cancelled ARCs, visa run, lost pay) foreign teachers are free to leave and seek employment somewhere more equitable, if they so desire.
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Re: Grumbling about low wages in Kaohsiung

Postby Taiwan Luthiers » 01 May 2012, 10:16

Taiwanese companies already exploit their own citizens (10+ hours a day, 6 days a week, 25k a month), what makes you think they will consider protecting foreign workers?

ESL teachers already have it better than most Taiwanese workers, although many Taiwanese white collar office workers (administrative assistant for example) probably does about 2 hours of actual work a day, spread out over the course of 10 hours...
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Re: Grumbling about low wages in Kaohsiung

Postby tomthorne » 01 May 2012, 10:29

SillyWilly wrote:
tomthorne wrote:The working visa regulations are clearly a disgrace and give the employers an enormous advantage during pay negotiations which skews the market. If the government wanted, or cared, to intervene then that would be the first port of call IMO.


Good example, but does it really skew the market price of ESL wages by much? I don't think so. I agree it does give the upper hand to the ESL employer because your (job) ARC is valid only as long as you work for your employer. But barring a few inconveniences ( leaving your employer before contract expiry, cancelled ARCs, visa run, lost pay) foreign teachers are free to leave and seek employment somewhere more equitable, if they so desire.


IME, the moment anyone gets open work rights their legal income goes up by a good 30%. If the standard ARC/work visa rules aren't skewing the system why should that be?

The work permit regulations clearly go against any idea of free trade and freedom of movement for employees. Obviously, they're not going to be changed any time soon but there's more chance of getting them changed than getting some kind of government administered minimum hourly wage put into place - which I agree is a ludicrous idea.
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Grumbling about low wages in Kaohsiung

Postby headhonchoII » 01 May 2012, 10:49

SillyWilly wrote:
tomthorne wrote:The working visa regulations are clearly a disgrace and give the employers an enormous advantage during pay negotiations which skews the market. If the government wanted, or cared, to intervene then that would be the first port of call IMO.


Good example, but does it really skew the market price of ESL wages by much? I don't think so. I agree it does give the upper hand to the ESL employer because your (job) ARC is valid only as long as you work for your employer. But barring a few inconveniences ( leaving your employer before contract expiry, cancelled ARCs, visa run, lost pay) foreign teachers are free to leave and seek employment somewhere more equitable, if they so desire.


It definitely affects the market , employers will take advantage anyway they can . The only real hold they have on an individual beyond offering increased wages is the visa system.
As soon as I got my JFRV I felt like a new man here. I didn't need to worry about getting end of contact letters, flights, new arcs processed, delays and uncertainties and fear of my weak residence and working rights being used as a weapon against me. And you know whatx employers really did look at me differently. Now I work for a foreign organization and am not beholden to any local employers, suits me just fine!
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Re: Grumbling about low wages in Kaohsiung

Postby SillyWilly » 01 May 2012, 11:03

tomthorne wrote:IME, the moment anyone gets open work rights their legal income goes up by a good 30%. If the standard ARC/work visa rules aren't skewing the system why should that be?

The work permit regulations clearly go against any idea of free trade and freedom of movement for employees. Obviously, they're not going to be changed any time soon but there's more chance of getting them changed than getting some kind of government administered minimum hourly wage put into place - which I agree is a ludicrous idea.


You're making a blanket statement that isn't necessarily true. Those of us who have open work rights obviously have greater flexibility concerning jobs, but hourly wages have nothing to do with open work rights. Hourly wages are determined by the market place, not open work rights. I can work more hours at more schools since I'm not restricted by an ARC, but I'm still working for the same market determined hourly rate.

The work permit "system" might be skewed (Standard ARCs vs Open Work Rights) but hourly wages are not.

Regarding "freedom of movement for employees," in no country does a sponsored employee have "freedom of movement" between employers. Your work permit / ARC is tied to your sponsor. When that relationship is severed, the sponsorship ends and the work permit is cancelled. It works the same in the US, UK, Australia, and Canada.
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Re: Grumbling about low wages in Kaohsiung

Postby GuyInTaiwan » 01 May 2012, 12:23

SillyWilly wrote:You're making a blanket statement that isn't necessarily true. Those of us who have open work rights obviously have greater flexibility concerning jobs, but hourly wages have nothing to do with open work rights. Hourly wages are determined by the market place, not open work rights. I can work more hours at more schools since I'm not restricted by an ARC, but I'm still working for the same market determined hourly rate.


That's incorrect as some (better paying) jobs simply aren't available to people without open work rights. There are two examples I can think of here. The first is that some government schools hire people with marriage visas. I don't know if that is actually legal, but assuming it is, it's a category of work that is restricted to either people with marriage visas or certain qualifications. Another is privates. If I recall correctly, a normal ARC requires a minimum of fourteen hours with the primary employer, a minimum of six hours with non-primary employers, no more than three employers, and no more than 32 hours between all employers. There are certainly lots of jobs (especially privates) that pay much higher rates than the industry average, but they have fewer than six hours. Such jobs would not necessarily be legally available to many teachers.

Anyway, my take on all of this is that the entire free market is very flawed in this country regarding EFL. It's an industry full of mis-conceptions or complete ignorance by the customers (students or their parents). It's all highly irrational. Until and unless the customers become better informed and demand better results, there will always be a huge problem here. However, one day, they may become better informed and demand better results, and then we will see massive change. That said, the exact same problems exist within the government system. It's probably better from an employee's point of view, but the outcomes for the customers are still piss poor. I therefore think it's the industry (and perhaps wider culture) that is the issue. I've had the same completely inane conversations with people about English teaching/learning in both the public and private sector, and gone away scratching my head in all cases. These days, I start from the premise that no one (including, or even especially, people with a lot of "experience") knows what the hell they're doing, or why.
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Re: Grumbling about low wages in Kaohsiung

Postby Taiwan Luthiers » 01 May 2012, 12:33

You cannot expect customers to become educated by themselves... customers will always have unrealistic expectations regarding anything, I speak from experience.

It is up to the schools to educate the customer about what works and what doesn't. They really do need to hire teachers based on qualification and not just some white guy off the street who can't even speak proper English in the first place. They probably should hire a few random foreigners to teach conversation but nothing more, and they have to be well qualified too.

If a school sets themselves up as a school who cares about the quality of the education that they will provide, then they should have no trouble getting students even if the school is primarily taught by Asian Americans or Taiwanese.

I had to educate customers about my services often too, because there are people out there who will provide guitar repair services for 1/4 the price I ask for, but their work is often piss poor. For example, refinish an entire acoustic guitar for 3000nt, with a turnaround time of 2 weeks, which isn't really possible for me. I suspect they most likely send it to a car paint shop for the work, however an auto paint shop doesn't know anything about refinishing a guitar properly and the result is often not professional (think thick layers of paint, unpolished)
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