Taiwan employees should have right to refuse returning to China: Lawmaker

Taiwan labor union urges government to penalize companies for forcing employees to return to China

Taiwanese workers reportedly ordered to return to factories in China. (Facebook photo)

Taiwanese workers reportedly ordered to return to factories in China. (Facebook photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan legislator Hung Sun-han (洪申翰) and Taiwan Labor Front Secretary-General Sun Yu-lien (孫友聯) held a press conference Monday (Feb. 17), urging the government to protect employee rights and refuse company orders to return to China for work.

At the press briefing, Hung pointed out that he has received many complaints from Taiwanese workers who have involuntarily returned to factories and offices in China for fear of losing their jobs. He said the companies' insistence on Taiwanese workers returning to China will affect the country's epidemic prevention system and that employees should have the right to say no without losing their jobs.

Hung said several companies demanded that Taiwanese workers turned in their masks to share with their Chinese co-workers. He emphasized that China is the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak and that enterprises should not put company profits ahead of employee safety, reported Now News.

Referencing the Occupational Safety and Health Act, Sun said companies have a duty to evacuate employees from dangerous places — and China should be considered as such. He added the Taiwan government needs to utilize the law and penalize companies that put the island nation's population in danger.

The Taiwan labor union representative proceeded to urge the Ministry of Labor to emphasize the "avoidance rights" (退避權) of Taiwanese employees. He stressed that keeping the country safe from the coronavirus should be the priority of Taiwan's companies, reported CNA.

Hung Sun-han (center) and Sun Yu-lien (right) urge the government to protect Taiwanese workers. (CNA photo)