Monday, March 9, 2015

Lifting of ban on Vietnamese workers an option: official

Lifting of ban on Vietnamese workers an option: official

2015/03/07 17:38:47

Taipei, March 7 (CNA) The lifting of a decade-old ban on Vietnamese workers is one of the options Taiwan could take to deal with a labor shortage after Indonesia has said it might freeze unskilled labor exports, the Ministry of Labor said Saturday.

"Lifting the ban on Vietnamese workers is one of Taiwan's options, and we're also negotiating with other countries (on importing their workers)," Labor Minister Chen Hsiung-wen (陳雄文) said.

According to Ministry of Labor statistics, Indonesia had the biggest contingent of foreign nationals working in Taiwan -- accounting for 41.6 percent, or 231,489, of the 556,412 foreign workers in the country as of the end of January 2015. Of the 221,709 foreign workers involved in health and social work activities, mostly serving as full-time caregivers for elderly Taiwanese, 176,117 were from Indonesia, the figures show. Indonesia said last month that it will gradually reduce the number of domestic workers sent to Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Macau and other countries and territories in the Asia-Pacific region beginning in 2017.

The act is bound to impact Taiwan, which relies heavily on Indonesian workers.

"After Vietnam began to severely punish workers fleeing their jobs in recent years, the situation of Vietnamese workers absconding has improved," Chen said.

Chen said Taiwan is expected to coordinate with the Vietnamese authorities on lifting the ban at the end of this month, while a ministerial meeting between the two sides will be held next month.

If the negotiations go smoothly, it is expected that the ban could be lifted in six months at the earliest.

But he stressed that there are still many possibilities for introducing workers from other countries, noting that the ministry is actively seeking workers from other countries and saying that "Myanmar is also one of the options."

Due to the serious absconding problem, Taiwan imposed a ban on Vietnamese fishermen in May 2004 and froze imports of Vietnamese caregivers and domestic maids in January 2005.

(By Zoe Wei and Lilian Wu)

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