Sounds pretty clear-cut to me, and I would be pissed off in your shoes.
When I was in a similar situation I explained - politely - that since I didn’t have enough money to live or a visa (I was reliant on them for a work permit.) I was facing imprisonment until I found a way to pay for a ticket out. It sounds melodramatic, but that’s what it boils down to. In the circumstances I obviously was pretty concerned about getting the money I believed was owed, and had no qualms about causing ‘trouble’. I was already in trouble, although I may have neglected to mention that I had another job lined up.
As they were claiming they didn’t owe me anything we needed to find a resolution without anyone getting nasty. I produced a copy of an article I found at tealit.com which explained how to file a complaint at the CLA. It’s free, no lawyer is required, and their judgements apparently have the force of law. The good bit is that they have to investigate any complaints, within ten days if I remember correctly.
My ex-employer who was trying to bully me was suddenly faced with the prospect of someone coming to look at their accounts and hiring practises. I wasn’t doing it to be vindictive, I was doing it to get a clear decision about whether they owed me any money, and to buy myself some time with the immigration people. With the complaint under investigation I had grounds to fight any deportation order, and would be able to find another job.
Obviously, neither of us really wanted to have to go through all that. I just wanted them to understand that they didn’t really leave me any choice. It was up to them to suggest an alternative, such as paying me off properly. Amazingly enough, they paid. And when I went back to get the tax money they had skimmed off but not paid, there was no trouble at all.
So you DO have legal recourse. Or are you going to say that you didn’t have a work permit through this company and were working illegally?
I really don’t understand why people insist on doing this. Working legally is not hard, taxes are negligible, and there are no benefits to breaking the law. Of course, if your employer refused to sponsor you, and forced you to work illegally, and you had no legal alternative available, then what have you got to lose now?
Hiring illegal workers is also going to get him into trouble. If you’re planning to leave Taiwan anyway then why do you have to fear getting found out? It’s just another thing to complain about to the CLA, another thing he doesn’t want to get into trouble for.
I did once call the CLA in TaiZhong, with reference to IACC. They were on the phone to the company within ten minutes, even though I’ve heard all sorts of claims about IACC being ‘connected’. The rule of law DOES mean something in this country, if you’re prepared to give it a chance. Just bitching because someone didn’t pay you something they weren’t actually obliged to pay you - because you chose to work illegally - is not a solution.
Hope it works out for you. Don’t give in without a fight, and take a local witness next time you go to talk to them.