Taiwan, hit by recession and a rising jobless rate, may cut the number of foreign workers in an effort to provide jobs to Taiwanese, a newspaper said on Monday, dpa reported.
The Liberty Times quoted Tsai Hsun-hsiung, minister without portfolio, as saying that Taipei is studying the possibility of tightening the quota for foreign workers, a move that could create 70,000-80,000 jobs for Taiwanese.
"Except for maids and the jobs that Taiwan people do not want to take, we will tighten the quotas for jobs that can be taken by Taiwanese," the paper quoted him as saying.
For example, currently 20-25 per cent of the workers at a construction firm can be foreigners. In future, this quota could be cut to 15 per cent, he said.
However, if Taiwan tightens the quota for foreign workers, it would have to subsidize companies because local workers are paid more than foreign workers, he added.
Taiwan has hired more than 300,000 foreign workers, with most of them coming from the Philippines and Thailand.
Most of the foreign workers work at construction sites or in so- called "Three D" jobs - jobs that are difficult, dirty and dangerous.
Currently Taiwan hires workers only from the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and Mongolia.
The basic monthly pay for a foreign worker or maid in Taiwan is 15,840 dollars (480 US).
Taiwan's jobless rate is close to 5 per cent, with nearly half a million people out of work.