TAIPEI (The China Post) — As the epidemic situation in Taiwan stabilizes, the central government has turned its attention to the urgent need to solve the labor shortage in various industries.
The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC, 中央流行疫情指揮中心) recently re-opened its borders to migrant workers on Nov. 11, with the first group from Indonesia due to arrive on Nov. 17.
As the pandemic rages on, they also listed out relevant epidemic-prevention measures, while employers and labor brokers begin to prepare for the entry procedures.
However, many employers think that the policy is not completely fair and that there is room for improvement, including issues such as the evaluation of migrant workers’ “accumulated points system” (積分制) and the allocation of quarantine beds.
They expressed hope that the Ministry of Labor (MOL, 勞動部) can consider the needs of employers and make adjustments
A well-known labor broker agency company told 4-Way Voice and The China Post that most employers are willing to cooperate with the “accumulated points system” evaluation, but a few factory operators take issue with the fact that migrant workers who work in manufacturing need to be evaluated based on the dormitory types provided for migrant workers—mainly, that the scores of single suites will be higher.
However, these factory employers point out that most of the dormitories for industrial migrant workers are shared by many people, and few are single suites. If they need to change the dormitories purely to boost their points according to the latest policy, the cost would increase greatly, which would have a great impact on small and medium-sized enterprises.
In addition, the categories evaluated for migrant domestic workers in the latest system include the vaccination situation of migrant workers and the epidemic situation in the country of origin.
Considering that the first wave is only open to Indonesian migrant workers, most labor brokers would prepare for the complete vaccination of migrant workers, Therefore, there will be many cases where the final points are the same.
Families who are looking to hire migrant domestic caregivers can only decide through lottery draws, leading many to question the significance of the accumulated points system, as employers feel that “everything depends on luck.” Due to this, they hope that the government could add more quarantine beds and solve the problem of labor shortages as soon as possible.
As for the MOL’s requirement that employers need to buy health insurance for migrant workers that will cover up to NT$500,000 of medical costs if they are infected with COVID-19 within the 30-day period after arriving in Taiwan.
To this, most employers and labor brokers agree that this is for the sake of migrant workers’ health and is necessary.
However, some employers have responded that since the beneficiaries are migrant workers (patients) and their families, it should be borne by the migrant workers themselves rather than by the employers, and stated their desire that the MOL can give more consideration to this point.
At present, the Taiwanese government has reserved an extra 1,700 beds in quarantine centers for the arriving migrant workers, which will be provided evenly among domestic caregivers and those seeking work in factories.
However, an advocate group for disabled families and employers of migrant domestic workers (台灣失能者家庭暨看護雇主國際協會) questioned: In the past year, due to the shortage of labor, the manufacturing industry poached a large number of people from domestic caregiver employers, resulting in the shortage of domestic care workers.
This time, as both industry workers and domestic caregivers, will be given the same number of spots, and the government didn’t allow for more domestic workers to enter Taiwan, to which the group expressed suspicion that the MOL’s decision is economy-oriented.
Taiwan’s social welfare labor is highly dependent on Indonesian migrant workers, but Indonesian migrant workers have not been able to enter Taiwan since Dec. 4, 2020, due to the pandemic, which has seriously impacted many families’ care needs.
The association claimed that although the current speed at which migrant workers are allowed in Taiwan can alleviate the problem of the labor shortage as a whole, it is simply not enough to make up for the lack of caregivers in the past year.