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Taiwan – Substitute labourers needed amid Philippines recruitment freeze

05 August 2013

Facing a potential labour shortage of 30,000 people, as a result of the freezing of applications for Philippine labourers, the government is exploring the practicality of sourcing substitute workers from countries including Sri Lanka and Burma, according to the Jakarta Post.

The government has implemented labour sanctions on the Philippines since May. This has induced labour shortages in both the old-economy and hi-tech industries. According to the Council of Labour Affairs (CLA), the contracts of 30,000 Philippine labourers will expire later this year.

Lin San-quei, director-general of the council's Bureau of Employment and Vocational Training, said that the CLA is exploring the practicality of introducing labourers from English-speaking countries; including Sri Lanka and Burma. He said the CLA will embark on field research starting this month.

High-tech companies, the main sector in Taiwan recruiting Filipino labourers, has already found replacements from Vietnam. However, since many Vietnamese workers do not have proficient English skills, local businesses have not found them as capable as Filipinos. In addition, the tedious application process has resulted in inconvenience to local firms.

To make the situation worse, the Vietnamese government recently halted the country's labour exports, as the government believes local brokers have charged exorbitant commission. Vietnamese labour arrivals are expected to resume in November, sources said. This has significantly impacted on already beleaguered Taiwanese businesses that are already desperate for workers.

Workers from Thailand are also less willing to work in Taiwan nowadays. Because of the economic recovery in Thailand, and growing Japanese investment in the country, an increasing number of citizens in Thailand now prefer to work in their home country.

President Ma’s administration stopped high-level economic exchanges and froze applications of Philippine labourers wishing to work on the island two months ago after Philippine Coast Guard shot and killed a 65-year-old Taiwanese fisherman in water southeast of Taiwan, causing public anger and two rounds of sanctions from Taiwan.

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