The Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM), a regional institution working for and with migrants, calls on the Executive Yuan to develop and strengthen state mechanisms to protect migrant workers from abuse and exploitation in Taiwan.
Based on recent reports that APMM and its partner organizations in Taiwan have been receiving, cases of violations committed against migrant workers, specifically caregivers, home-based migrant workers and fisherfolk, have increased.
“For caregivers, they barely have a rest day per week. They work more than 12 hours a day. They are 24 hours on call. Unfortunately, they are not included in the Labor Standards Law of Taiwan nor their salaries have been increased for almost ten years,” stated Ramon Bultron, managing director of APMM.
Bultron lamented that many caregivers and home-based migrants are only allowed one day-off per month, others two. For some, they have to endure lack of sleep because they have to attend to their wards, who are mostly elders, very late at night. And when morning comes, they will be made to do other chores like preparing and cooking meals, cleaning the house, doing the laundry and other household chores. Some even have reported being made to do illegal work.
Most Filipino migrant fisherfolk, on the other hand, work 24/7, live in substandard accommodations, made to eat barely edible meals and receive less than 8,000NTD a month. Many horrors confront Filipino migrant fisherfolk, like sleeping in cockroach-infested quarters, being made to eat less than twice a day, being threatened by their employers.
Both sectors of the migrant populace also complain about their brokers who receive a portion of their salaries but do nothing to help them. Oftentimes, the migrants say, the brokers are the ones who fire some of their peers, scold them when they complain to the Labour Department, and threaten to bring them straight home to their motherland if they “cause any problem”.
While APMM welcomed the possible lifting by the Taiwan authorities on the ban to hire Vietnamese migrants, they noted the overly high placement fees that migrant domestics and fisherfolk have to pay just in order to get a job in Taiwan. “If the report is correct, it seems high a price for both Vietnamese fisherfolk and domestics to pay from 1,000 to 2,000 USD, respectively, for placement and processing when the their counterparts in Taiwan become embroiled in debt because they do not receive the salaries they are promised.”
Taiwan authorities should start taking concrete actions to protect migrant workers, APMM asserted. “Include domestic workers and caregivers in the labor standard law. Increase their salaries. Come up with a standard labor contract for all migrant workers. These are but a few of the many things that the Executive Yuan can do for migrant workers,” said Bultron. “Recognizing their contributions to the Taiwan society helps in uplifting the spirits of migrant workers but it takes political will to make them feel that they truly belong. Regarding, upholding and protecting their rights is a big must that the Executive Yuan and its relevant agencies can do for the migrants.”
“One way of winning this battle is for Taiwan’s leaders to recognize that there is a problem confronting migrants and that they need to partner with migrants in finding solutions to these problems,” APMM concluded. #