TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Hundreds of migrant workers marched in Taipei on Sunday (April 28) to protest against the brokerage system and demanded that it be replaced with a government-to-government direct hiring system.
Over 200 migrant workers marched in front of the Ministry of Labor (MOL) shouting the slogan "Government-to-government direct hiring," reported CNA. The migrant workers are demanding the government put an end to the brokerage system and replace it with a direct hiring system.
The organizer of the march Migrant Empowerment Network in Taiwan (MENT), told CNA that the Taiwanese government has imported migrant workers for 27 years, but has not fulfilled its duty to protect and serve these workers. MENT said that the public service that the government should be managing has been "privatized" as a source of profit for private brokers.
MENT cited the case of a migrant worker named "Ado" (阿多), whose three-year visa was coming to an end and his former broker said he would not find him another job in Taiwan, reported UDN. Ado had to try to find a job on his own or face deportation.
A Taiwanese woman surnamed Chang (張) claimed that she could help find him a position, charged him an NT$55,000 fee, and took his passport and residence permit. Chang told him that he needed to leave his former employer as soon as possible, otherwise, the broker would send him home.
Afraid of being forced to return home, he left his former employer five days before the expiration of his visa to start a new job introduced by Chang. However, Chang did not immediately find a new job for Ado and it took some time before she placed him in a lumber mill pulling nails and sorting wood.
After getting to know his coworkers, he found that they had all absconded from their previous employers. When he called the 1955 foreign workers' hotline he discovered he was also now considered an "unaccounted migrant worker."
Ado told Chang that he did not want to abscond or work illegally, but Chang claimed that she knew many officials and the "everything was alright." In fact, she was trying to deceive Ado into breaking the law.
MENT told UDN that this was not an unusual case and is a result of the private brokerage system. The organization said that the Taiwan government should immediately replace the private brokers in a comprehensive way with a government-to-government direct hiring framework.
The organization said that even though the MOL had established the Direct Hiring Service Center in 2007, very few employers are willing to use the direct hiring channel because of the complicated procedures and employment regulations.
MENT told UDN that even if extreme cases such as sexual assault, bodily harm, intimidation, coercion, and forced repatriation are excluded, broker fees, recruitment fees, and "service fees without services," have put great pressure on migrant workers in Taiwan.
Many migrant workers carried signs at the rally which read, "brokers are the devil," "abolish the broker system," and "Don't let your children be brokers. They will be cursed by migrant workers." The marchers strongly appealed for the "abolishment of the brokerage system."
Migrant workers sewing together giant quilt. (CNA photo)
Giant quilt made by protestors. (CNA photo)