The S. Korean Labour Ministry said Thursday that more foreign workers will get permission to work in the country next year amid rising labour demand in the manufacturing sector. The nation''s foreign workforce quota will be raised to 57,000 for 2012, up nearly 9,000 from the maximum allowable number for foreign new hires this year, the Ministry of Employment and Labour said in its 2012 policy plan for foreign labour , relayed by the S.Korean Yonhap news agency today. The step came after a protest by Nepalese workers in Seoul last month. According to the new measure announced by the South Korean government to protect the rights of foreign workers, the government will replace its foreign trainee program with a work permit system that grants more rights to foreign workers. The Nepalese workers claimed that the trainee program was tantamount to slavery. There are between 33,600 to 84,000 foreigners legally employed in Korea, and 19,000 to 32,000 of them are industrial trainees. The new labor policy announced by the government promises easier entry for foreign workers if small companies improve labor conditions. The government next year will introduce a ''work permit'' system, similar to ones used in Singapore and Germany, to ensure a steady supply of imported labor. Under the work permit system, foreign workers will receive that same wages and legal protections available to Korean workers.