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Workers' group urges protection of migrant workers in Taiwan

Workers' group urges protection of migrant workers in Taiwan

Migrant health caregivers (2) By Bear Lee CNA Staff Writer Nearly 220,000 migrant health care givers currently work in Taiwan, but about 200,000 of those, being hired as either domestic helpers or caregivers, are not protected under Taiwan's Labor Standards Law. That means longer working hours, lower pay and fewer protections than migrant workers in other industries.
Wu Ching-ju (???), a member of the Taiwan International Workers Association, a non-profit organization for the protection of migrant workers, noted that the NT$15,840 (about NT$498) average monthly wage for migrant domestic helpers has remained unchanged for 18 years. The disposable income of domestic helpers or health caregivers -- after deducting health insurance premiums and brokerage fees, is less than NT$7,000 per month during their first year in Taiwan, Wu said. "Those being taken care of by health caregivers are seniors with chronic illnesses or other physical or mental disorders, individuals who usually need 24-hour care," Wu added. However, about 80 percent of the employers are reluctant to set daily working hours for domestic helpers and caregivers, Wu said, citing the results of surveys conducted by the Ministry of Labor that show on average, migrant health caregivers work 14-18 hours daily, and almost 100,000 get no days off a year. An employer surnamed Lin, who has hired migrant health caregivers to take care of her bedridden husband, who suffers from Parkinson's disease for more than one decade, said she and many other employers compensate health caregivers with extra pay for working on their days off. "We treat A-Di, (the nickname of her Indonesian health caregiver) like a member of the family," the 75-year-old Lin said. Wu said that even if Taiwan shifts its main supply of migrant workers from Indonesia to Myanmar and Vietnam, excessive brokerage fees will remain a problem, unless the government reorganizes the whole migrant employment system and increases protections for foreign workers. In response to criticisms, the Workforce Development Agency under the Labor Ministry said that because so many migrant health careivers live with their employers it is very difficult to separate their real work hours and when they are on stand by. In Singapore and Hong Kong, migrant domestic helpers or health caregivers are paid between NT$11,873 and NT$16,814, but in addition to doing domestic chores, they are also expectd to take care of seniors and children for the families that employ them. At a recent legislative meeting, Minister of Labor Chen Hsiung-wen (???) said that if the accommodation provided for migrant health caregivers by employers in Taiwan is taken into account, their monthly salary is almost the same as the minimum wage. Migrant workers can lodge complaints against their employers through the "1955" hotline set up by the ministry if they are not treated fairly or do not receive extra pay for working on their days off, Chen said. For many employers, who already have to deal with the economic burden of taking care of ill parents, raising pay or arranging separate accommodation for migrant health care givers will increase costs and thereby make them unaffordable, the ministry said.


Updated : 2021-07-27 10:13 GMT+08:00