The current government is taking its “Southbound Policy” seriously and overseas workers are benefiting from it already. The “Southbound Policy” itself aims at strengthening ties with ASEAN countries, which is becoming very handy in many societal and economical aspects of cooperation between Taiwan and countries like the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia or Indonesia.
On August 31 2017, Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-Wen (蔡英文) declared that her government is planning to create a special public infrastructure fund in order to boost partnerships between the island nation and the ASEAN countries. The initial sum to be spent on the fund totals around US$3.5 billion. Tsai has also promised to boost the restructuring of Taiwan’s Overseas Investment & Development Corp. This will be overseen by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
So, ASEAN countries and their citizens will receive help from Taiwan in their own countries, how about all those who left for Taiwan in search of a better paid work and better life for their families?
The Ministry of Labor announced on September 1, 2017 that amendments to the Employment Services Act would be soon implemented for the sake of protecting overseas workers employed in Taiwan. After the implementation of the amendment, each employer will be charged based on the number of illegal foreign workers employed. The current fines for employing illegal overseas workers stand from NT$ 150,000 to NT$ 750,000. So, if an employer decides to employ 10 illegal overseas workers they may expect to be fined between NT$ 1,500,000 and NT$ 7,500,000 if caught.
Additionally the amendment should discourage employers from unlawfully holding overseas workers’ passports. If there isn’t a good reason for doing so, employers will be fined between NT$ 60.000 and NT $300.000 for confiscating workers passports, and banned from employing foreign laborers in future. If an employer is found sexually abusing, harassing or trafficking overseas workers they will be barred from employing such workforce from 2 to 5 years. If they do so repeatedly they won’t be allowed to hire foreign workforce anymore. If an agent is found guilty of the same sex crimes against overseas workers they will be fined from NT$ 300,000 to NT$1,500,000 and barred from working as a labor agent. If they fail to report an employer engaging in such activities they will be fined from NT$ 60,000 to NT $300,000
Things are slowly starting to look better for overseas workers in Taiwan. The next big thing many hope for is abolition of the compulsory curfew in many dormitories in which overseas workers live.