Letter to Editor: I-Mei Foods direct hiring in the Philippines is a helpful and commendable act

Direct hiring by I-Mei Foods Company in the Philippines helps workers to ease debt burden from broker fees

Filipino applicants in Davao City. (By Taiwan News)

The recently held direct hiring of Taiwanese food giant, I-Mei Foods Company in different parts of the Philippines, specifically in Manila and in Davao City is highly commendable since it helps workers to ease the debt burden of broker fees and also to achieve their dreams of a better life for their families here in the Philippines.

I-Mei Foods Co., led by General Manager and CEO, Mr. Luis Ko has a good reputation with regards to corporate social responsibility and strict food sanitation programs in its 83 years of existence.

As reported by Taiwan News, I-Mei Foods held a series of direct hiring interviews and orientations for two days here in Davao City, which is a first such hiring event held by a Taiwanese company here in the Philippines. After the event, representatives from I-Mei Foods and officials from the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO), Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and Overseas Community Affairs Council Republic of China paid a visit to Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.

During the meeting, I-Mei Foods International Recruitment adviser, Mr. Jack Cheng told Mayor Duterte-Carpio that Filipino workers at I-Mei have done a tremendous job for the said company.

Mayor Duterte-Carpio said that she will look forward to further cooperation with the company and she will try her best to extend assistance for future recruitment.

I-Mei Foods first hired 50 Filipino workers in 1993 but now employs 530 from Taiwan’s southern neighbor country, Philippines.

I-Mei Foods Co. General Manager and CEO, Mr. Luis Ko said in an interview with the Central News Agency that it was the first time the company held direct hiring of migrant workers for its workforce, 15 percent of whom are Filipinos. Mr. Ko also said that this move can save recruitment costs.

 I-Mei Foods Co. CEO Luis Ko (高志明) 

With this initiative, I can really say that this move is ingenious, since I-Mei Foods exercised wise financial management by opting for direct hiring instead of relying on a broker system. That said move can save a lot. Just like Mr. Ko, I hope that other Taiwanese companies will follow suit.

While migrant workers have continued to campaign for the abolition of the broker system and instead call for a government-to-government hiring system, and since the majority of Taiwanese companies rely on brokers to hire migrant workers, I-Mei Foods may indirectly be heeding the call of migrant workers by doing so.

The initiative earned praise from Filipino applicants as well as BBC reporter Cindy Su. In her radio program, she noted that I-Mei Foods made an unusual move in terms of recruitment and has actively heeded the call of migrant workers by cutting out the middlemen in the hiring process.

Su also recalled that she encountered female migrant workers in Taiwan suffering sexual abuse from their employers because they need money to pay off their debts to the brokers.

One of the reasons why a group of migrant workers led by the Migrant Empowerment Network in Taiwan held a mock referendum that started last Sept. 17, is to abolish the broker system. There are times that migrant workers who wish to work in Taiwan have to pay a hefty amount of brokerage fees.

Thank you, I-Mei Foods for holding a direct hiring activity here in the Philippines as a response to Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen’s “New Southbound Policy” as well as Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s effort in narrowing down the urban-rural income gap. Thank you for appreciating the talents of Filipino workers and their notable contribution to the growth of the food company. And also thank you for heeding the call of migrant workers to end the broker system.

Your compassion and consideration to the needs of migrant workers strengthens your good reputation in its 83 years of existence in the food business. This will also help cement bilateral ties between the Philippines and Taiwan, as well as increase cooperation in the food industry between the two countries.

*Christopher Rivera is a former campus journalist and a private school teacher from the Philippines

Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio (Center) meets with I-Mei representative Mr. Jack Cheng (7th from right)