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New law set to improve foreign fishery workers' rights

Distant Water Fisheries Act will protect foreign fishery workers' rights when law comes into force on Jan. 20

Fishermen and their catch in Penghu.

Fishermen and their catch in Penghu. (CNA photo)

Taipei, Dec. 19 (CNA) Foreign fishery workers' rights will be better protected when the Distant Water Fisheries Act comes into force on Jan. 20, the Fisheries Agency said on Monday.

Under the new law, the Fisheries Agency is authorized to establish rules managing local brokers and map out measures to protect the welfare and rights of foreign fishery workers hired to work on Taiwanese fishing boats, said the agency.

The agency was responding to media reports on the death of an Indonesian fishery worker on board a Taiwanese fishing boat, the Futzuchun, last year.

Supriyanto, in his 40s, died in August 2015 of septicemia from infected wounds because he was not provided with timely treatment after being physically assaulted aboard the vessel about a month earlier, according to a Control Yuan report in October, 2015.

Supriyanto was hired via illegal labor brokers in Taiwan and Indonesia, according to local media.

The Taiwanese authorities do not have jurisdiction over deals signed between an Indonesian broker and the fishery workers, the Fisheries Agency said.

One of the provisions of the Act for Distant Water Fisheries requires local brokers submit contracts with foreign brokers and contracts between foreign brokers and foreign workers to be hired by Taiwanese employers to the Taiwan authorities.

The new law is expected to substantively increase the protection afforded foreign fishery workers after weeding out "unreasonable" clauses in such contracts, said the agency.

At the urge of the Control Yuan, the watchdog arm of the government, Pingtung District Prosecutors Office has reopened the investigation into the death of Supriyanto.

The Control Yuan also censured the Fisheries Agency, saying that its regulations and oversight of employment agencies and employers of fishery workers like Supriyanto were inadequate.

The agency was negligent and tardy in investigating Supriyanto's death and compensating his family, according to a report by the Control Yuan.

Updated : 2021-07-25 21:47 GMT+08:00