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Foreign labor policy should help increase job opportunities: premier

Foreign labor policy should help increase job opportunities: premier

Taipei, Sept. 1 (CNA) Premier Sean Chen said Saturday the nation's foreign labor policy should be based on the goal of increasing job opportunities for local workers. The introduction of foreign labor should not undermine employment opportunities for local workers, the premier said at the fifth and final financial and economic forum in a series that focused on labor relations and human resources. The premier asked the Council of Labor Affairs to weigh the views of all sectors in the country before deciding whether to set quotas for foreign labor or a ratio of foreign to domestic workers. However, he suggested recruiting white-collar workers from abroad to enhance its competitiveness. The premier's remarks came against the background of a proposal by the Council for Economic Planning and Development Thursday to increase the foreign labor quota as an incentive for overseas Taiwanese investors to return home. "Introducing a foreign labor quota of 40 percent will in a way create 60 percent job opportunities for local workers," CEPD Vice Chairman Wu Ming-chi said. The additional foreign workers will be used on late night shifts that local workers are unwilling to take, he said. Rock Hsu, head of the Chinese National Federation of Industries (CNFI), said in the meeting that many Taiwanese businessmen are considering investing in mainland China or Southeast Asia amid the global economic slump. The next two years are crucial to Taiwan, and the labor and management sectors should work hand in hand to improve the local investment environment, he said. The CNFI also questioned the necessity of reviewing minimum wages every year. "If a date must be set, then every three years will be fine," the CNFI said. The CNFI also said that Taiwanese businessmen in China are trying to set up bases in Taiwan for high value-added products but have been deterred by the labor shortage. The federation urged the government to review the current foreign labor policy and move toward easing the restrictions. Based on past experience, the introduction of foreign labor has no direct effect on domestic unemployment, the federation said. The government should adopt a more flexible policy and allow the employment of more foreign workers to meet the needs of enterprises, it said.
Once the exodus of enterprises slows down, more job opportunities will be created, the CNFI said. Meanwhile, labor groups staged protests outside the Executive Yuan where the meeting was being held. The groups spoke against the easing of foreign labor quotas, saying that "the government cannot rely on cheap labor to solve the labor-shortage problem." The protesters had brief minor clashes with police but later dispersed. (By Hseih Chia-chen, Zoe Wei and Lilian Wu)