COVID test credibility hurdle for Taiwan to re-introduce Indonesian workers

Indonesia calling for reopening borders for its migrant workers, but Taiwan remains wary

Representatives from Taiwan and Indonesia talk over worker freeze.

Representatives from Taiwan and Indonesia talk over worker freeze. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The coronavirus task force said on Tuesday (Feb. 2) Taiwan will not consider allowing entry of Indonesian migrant workers in the near future “unless there is a strong demand.”

Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), head of the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), said dubious COVID-19 test reports produced by Indonesian arrivals have become a major concern for whether or not to remove the ban, reported CNA. The Indonesian government is aware of the concern and has promised to address the credibility issue.

As part of the negotiations, Indonesia has designated about 90 screening service providers as authorized institutions to issue relevant documents. Considering the pandemic is still raging in the archipelagic state, further assessment is needed to incorporate the opinions of the labor ministry before the restrictions are scrapped, according to the CECC.

Taiwan has indefinitely suspended the introduction of laborers from the Southeast Asian nation since Dec. 18 as the risk of imported cases from the country remains high. The freeze has affected 6,000 Indonesian laborers, according to the country’s labor authorities.

A report suggested Taiwan had footed NT$100 million (US$3.57 million) in medical bills for treating 133 coronavirus cases among arrivals from Indonesia as of Dec. 16, 2020.

The two sides held a videoconference in December for a proposed labor law change, which will increase the burden on Taiwanese employers, without producing a constructive result.

Over fierce objections from employers in Taiwan, Indonesia has postponed the effective date for the new migrant worker policy until July 15. The rule would require overseas employers to shoulder the cost for workers’ airline tickets, visa applications, brokerage services, health exams, and more.

Updated : 2021-03-08 10:08 GMT+08:00