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June 26, 2017

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No evidence that foreign workers cause low pay: MOL

TAIPEI --- Officials from the Ministry of Labor (MOL) Monday dismissed a media report that linked a lack of growth in wages to the increasing use of cheap labor used in Taiwanese manufacturing by employing foreign migrant workers.

Speaking at a Legislature hearing, Labor Minister Pan Shih-wei (潘世偉) said there is no evidence indicating a connection between low salary levels and foreign workers, and the argument needs to be backed up with "more careful analysis and stronger proof" to be treated seriously.

Also at the hearing, Workforce Development Agency Director-General Liao Wei-ren said that although there have been studies to determine whether use of foreign laborers is connected to low pay for local workers, no evidence has been established to show a direct link between the two.

He said the increase in foreign blue-collar workers in recent years is due to a rise in labor needs in industry.

The labor officials were responding to a report in the Apple Daily, which noted that Taiwan now employs 502,966 blue-collar foreign workers, marking the first time the number has topped the half-million-mark.

Taiwan's population was over 23 million as of April, according to interior ministry statistics.

The Apple Daily report said the foreign worker population grew by 100,000 over the past three years alone, partly due to the government's easing of the quota on foreign workers undertaking "dirty, dangerous and demanding" jobs last year.

Citing a labor rights activist, the report said the import of foreign workers is one of the main culprits causing Taiwan's wages to stay low because it allows employers to push down salary levels across the board.

Official statistics show that real monthly earnings averaged NT$44,739 (US$1,481) in 2013, lower than the NT$44,798 of 1998 despite an average economic growth of over 2 percent during that time.

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