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Migrant worker protesters urge Taiwan to meet Indonesia's demands

Migrant worker protesters urge Taiwan to meet Indonesia's demands

Taipei, March 12 (CNA) A group of activists and migrant workers protested in Taipei on Thursday, urging the government to meet Indonesian demands for better treatment of its workers in Taiwan. More than 30 protesters from Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Thailand demonstrated outside the Legislative Yuan, holding placards emblazoned with the word "anti-slavery" and shouting slogans such as "minimum wage for all." Some of the protesters chained themselves together and wore signs that read "slaves" on their clothes to protest long working hours and unfairly low wages. "I wish we could have higher wages because I work from 6:30am to 11pm every day and almost never have a full day off," said Anis Waliha, a 40-year-old Indonesian caregiver who has worked in Taiwan for six years. Foreign domestic workers in Taiwan work an average of 14-18 hours a day, but their wages have remained NT$15,840 (US$499.7) per month for 18 years, said Wu Ching-ju (???), a member of the Taiwan International Workers' Association (TIWA), which organized the protest. "The conditions raised by the Indonesian government are exactly what these domestic workers need and have been demanding for a long time," Wu said. In February, Indonesia said it planned to stop sending domestic workers to Taiwan from 2017 unless Taiwan raises wages based on its own minimum wage regulations, regulates work hours to a level consistent with local law and houses them in dormitories, as opposed to having them live with their employers. "Whether the Ministry of Labor plans to introduce workers from Sri Lanka, Myanmar or Vietnam, we demand that it protect the basic rights of all domestic helpers," Wu said. TIWA policy researcher Chen Hsiu-lien (???) urged the government to expand the remit of Taiwan's Labor Standards Act to apply to domestic workers and quickly pass a domestic workers protection act to safeguard their rights. The protest came on the same day Labor Minister Chen Hsiung-wen (???) was questioned at the Legislature about the government's response to Indonesia's plans to stop sending domestic workers to Taiwan and other Asia-Pacific countries from 2017. When pressed by lawmakers to respond to the protesters' demands, Chen said that if the food and lodging Taiwanese employers provide foreign domestic workers are taken into consideration the pay they receive comes closer to the local minimum wage of NT$19,273. On the issue of separate lodgings, Chen said local law does not require foreign workers to live with their employers, but that if they declined to do so they would have to pay for their own food and lodging. "This could impose a great financial burden on them," he said. Chen added that the Ministry of Labor has drafted a domestic workers protection act, which is currently being reviewed by the Executive Yuan. According to ministry statistics, as of the end of January, there were 231,489 Indonesian workers in Taiwan, which represents 41.6 percent of all foreign laborers in the country, ahead of Vietnam with 27.42 percent and the Philippines with 20.22 percent. (By Christie Chen)


Updated : 2021-09-26 20:49 GMT+08:00