Taiwan has approved the entry of 290,000 foreign workers, and at the end of October, 1995, there were about 193,000 foreign workers in Taiwan, including 131,000 Thais and 55,000 Filipinos. Taiwan's unemployment rate is expected to rise to 2.5 percent in 1996, prompting the government to slow down the entry of foreigners.
A union official asserted that, in the six years since Taiwan permitted the entry of foreign workers, some 450,000 have arrived or received approval to work in Taiwan. Some of the foreign workers have already departed, as have some of the 90,000 illegal aliens.
Some 18,000 foreign workers were reported to have abandoned their contracts, and 6,600 were apprehended. Between January and October 1995, 390 foreign workers were arrested by police on criminal charges.
The Council of Labor Affairs has decided to allow some legal foreign workers who lose jobs because of plant shutdowns to change jobs; they will be allowed to go to work for affiliated companies who have received permission to hire foreign workers, but have not yet brought them to Taiwan.
The Taipei city government is proposing stiffer penalties for employers who hire illegal immigrants. Officials estimate that nearly 11,800 legitimately hired foreign workers have fled their jobs and overstayed their visas in Taiwan. There are an additional 18,000 foreign workers in Taiwan.
Lilian Wu, "Foreign Laborers Outnumber Taiwan Aborigines," Central News Agency, February 13, 1996. "Taiwan: Labor Council to Let Some Legal Foreign Workers Change Jobs," Reuters, February 2, 1996.