Foreign workers in Taiwan want freedom to change employers: mock referendum

Over 90 percent of voters want better rights for foreign workers

Foreign workers at a Taiwan May Day event. (By Associated Press)

Foreign workers in Taiwan. (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – According to the preliminary results of a mock referendum on foreign workers’ issues in Taiwan, more than 90 percent of those polled say the laborers should be free to change employers.

The poll is being held from September 17 until December 10, with the final results to be announced at a migrant workers’ parade on December 17, the Migrants Empowerment Network in Taiwan (MENT) told the Central News Agency.

The first phase of the vote saw a total of 2,447 people, including 2,109 foreign laborers and 338 interested Taiwanese citizens, take part in the mock referendum, CNA reported Saturday.

The three topics up for a vote in the first phase included the protection of caregivers and housemaids by labor laws, the right to change employers freely, and the replacement of private labor brokers and middlemen by government-to-government labor recruitment.

A vast majority of voters approved of the three demands, with labor law protection for caregivers winning 2,424 against five, the right to find a different employer 2,413 to 14, and the abolition of the private labor brokerage system 2,415 to 14, organizers told CNA.

There are 15 designated voting areas across the country, with ballots to be opened every two weeks, though shortage of staff postponed the publication of the first-phase results from October 1 until Saturday, MENT officials said.