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Taiwan businesses feel pinch of Filipino employment freeze
Publication Date : 31-07-2013
Local businesses have begun facing labour shortage issues after a hiring freeze imposed by the government on Philippine workers, local sources said.
Unsatisfied with the Philippine government's response to the maritime dispute arising after Philippine coast guard officials fired on the Taiwanese fishing vessel Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28, the government of Taiwan on May 15 launched freeze on Philippine labour. The sanction was one of a number levelled against the Philippines. The shooting incident left one Taiwanese fisherman dead.
The impact of the sanction has been felt by local businesses, especially high-tech businesses located in science parks, according to Sheng Kuo-jung, vice chairman of the Allied Association for Science Park Industries.
Due to the labour shortage, many high-tech firms are starting to “seize” foreign labour from businesses in traditional industries, which are facing labour shortage issue as well, Sheng said.
Philippine worker demand
To highlight the issue, Sheng used his business, Hota Industrial MFG. Co., as an example. The manufacturer has lost about half of its 140 Philippine and Indonesian labour. The production line has been seriously affected as a result.
At present, more than 9,000 foreign workers are employed at companies in Taiwan's three science parks, and 90 per cent of the 4,500 foreign workers employed at the Hsinchu Science Park are Filipinos.
The reason local high-tech firms prefer hiring Philippine workers is Filipinos usually receive higher-education and have better English skills, Sheng said. Therefore, they usually have no problem operating advanced equipment and communicating with English-speaking technicians, Sheng explained.
Other foreign workers
According to Sheng, some Taiwanese companies have started looking to Vietnam for foreign workers. Since many Vietnamese workers do not have proficient English skills, however, local businesses have not found them as capable as Filipinos. In addition, the tedious application process required has caused much inconvenience to local firms, Sheng said.
To make the situation worse, the Vietnamese government has recently halted the country's labour exports, as the government believes local brokers have charged too much commission. Vietnamese labour arrivals are expected to resume in November, sources said. This has hurt Taiwanese firms which are in great need of workers.
Workers from Thailand are also less willing to work in Taiwan nowadays. Because of economic recovery in Thailand, which includes Japan increasing its investment in the country, an increasing number of citizens in Thailand now prefer to work in their home country.
The shooting dispute has evolved into an international foreign affair issue. While domestic businesses do not intend to put too much pressure on the government, the government should still recognise the seriousness of the problem, Sheng said, adding that the government may consider opening its door to Cambodia and Myanmar workers in order to satisfy local business demand.