Rising Migrant Workers in Taiwan: Challenges Ahead


The number of domestic migrant workers in Taiwan has reached a new peak, with the Ministry of Labor reporting a total of 753,430 workers as of the end of 2023. The construction and agriculture sectors saw the most significant increase. Due to the severe shortage of labor caused by the aging population, it is anticipated that the number of migrant workers will continue to rise gradually. Despite the growth in migrant worker numbers, the issue of workers going missing has become more serious, with 86,000 reported missing workers as of last year. In response, the Workforce Development Agency (WDA) states that they will address this problem through preventive measures, investigations, and policy adjustments.

Taiwan is grappling with a serious aging population issue, leading to a visible labor shortage. According to the Ministry of Labor statistics, the number of migrant workers exceeded 753,000 last year, with 519,000 in the industrial sector and 234,000 in the social welfare sector. The construction and agriculture sectors experienced the most significant increases. However, it's crucial to note that the number of missing migrant workers domestically has also reached a new high.

Su Yu-kuo, head of the Cross-Border Workforce Management at the Workforce Development Agency, stated, "Foreign intermediaries do not take on the responsibility of selecting employers, leading to some migrant workers going missing before reporting to their employers upon arrival. If the proportion of missing workers introduced reaches the specified standard, we will temporarily suspend the foreign intermediaries, ranging from 1 to 4 weeks."

The Ministry of Labor emphasizes that they will continue to address the issue of missing migrant workers through preventive, investigative, and policy measures. As of the end of last year, there were a total of 86,000 missing migrant workers, with an increase of nearly 6,000 in a year, equivalent to 17 workers going missing every day, with the manufacturing industry having the highest number of missing workers. Civil groups argue that even migrant workers have human rights and the freedom to switch jobs.

Wu Ching-ju, a researcher at the Taiwan International Workers Association, pointed out, "It's because they can't find their employers. The agency fees are high, and people already have no money if they lose their jobs. Even if they find employers elsewhere, employers still ask them to inquire through intermediaries. Ask public employment service institutions or even direct employment centers, have they developed any substantive job opportunities for introducing migrant workers?"

Civil groups are urging the government not to allow intermediary agencies to monopolize the migrant worker job market. They believe that Taiwan's employment service agencies should provide practical assistance to address migrant workers' employment issues and ensure their rights are protected in Taiwanese workplaces.

〔PNN / Reporter Yau Xiaoci,Qiu Fucai / Comprehensive report 〕2024-02-18 19:55

〔Photo by Andrew Leu from Unsplash 〕