Taiwan committed to promoting direct hiring of Thai workers

Taipei, Aug. 26 (CNA) The Council of Labor Affairs on Monday said it will step up efforts to get Taiwanese employers to directly hire Thai workers but acknowledged it would be a challenge. Only a few hundred Thai workers in Taiwan have been directly hired since employers were first allowed to do so in 2008, Chen Jui-chia, director of the council's Foreign Worker Administration, told CNA. Most Thai workers in Taiwan take up jobs in the manufacturing and construction sectors, where employers often need to hire many workers and find it inconvenient to look for workers and process the necessary paperwork on their own, opting to use manpower agencies instead, Chen said. As of June, over 60,000 foreign workers in Taiwan were directly hired, but over 90 percent of them are domestic workers, he said. Chen stressed that the council will actively promote the benefits of direct hiring, as it pledged to do at a recent Taiwan-Thailand labor conference, but he admitted the agency was limited to a public relations campaign because direct hiring is not compulsory. Countries with foreign workers in Taiwan have wanted to streamline the process of hiring their nationals and protect them from being exploited by manpower agencies and save them the fees they have to pay to brokers. Chen said the program also benefits employers because directly hired workers tend to be more loyal to the company and less likely to run away from their jobs. Taiwan and Thailand agreed at the 15th bilateral labor conference in Bangkok on Aug. 21 to step up the promotion of direct hiring of Thai workers and the inspection of high-risk workplaces and review manpower broker service fees. Thai officials hoped to reduce agency fee charges but the two sides did not go into detail on the size of the reduction, Chen said. He said the council has commissioned a study on the issue and will adjust the fees for all foreign workers according to the results of the study, which is expected to be ready by the end of the year. As of the end of July, there were more than 465,000 foreign workers in Taiwan. A total of 62,552 were from Thailand, of which 61,779 were working in the industrial sector, according to government statistics. (By Christie Chen)