November 1997 Volume 4 Number 11
Taiwan's Foreign Workers
The Council of Labor Affairs reported that 30,800 foreign workers had abandoned their employers and contracts as of September 30, 1997, or 12 percent of the 248,000 workers in Taiwan. Some 21,000 foreign workers who became illegal were found; Taiwan offers rewards for those who report runaway foreign workers.
COLA is once again considering a plan to require employers of foreign workers to withhold some of their wages and to return these wages to the worker in his/her country of origin. Migrants' rights advocates denounced the proposal as "immoral" and tantamount to "modern slavery."
Taiwan has employer sanctions; employers who hire one illegal foreign worker can be fined up to NT$90,000 and be sentenced to six months in jail. For two or more foreign workers, fines can be NT$300,000, and jail terms can be up to three years.
Over 1,300 foreigners committed crimes in Taiwan between January 1994 and June 1997, including 240 foreigners who were illegal aliens while in Taiwan, and 755 who were legal foreign workers.
Laura Tyson, "Taiwan split over foreign labor, Financial Times, October 9, 1997. "CLA proposal on laborers slammed," China News, October 4, 1997. "CLA policies blasted: government's foreign worker proposal creates 'second-class' citizen, " China News, October 2, 1997.