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Migrant workers on New Taipei’s Sanying line accuse employers of exploitation

RSEA Engineering Corporation allegedly conspired with Indonesian business partner

(Facebook, Chiu Hsien-chih screenshot)

(Facebook, Chiu Hsien-chih screenshot)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — New Power Party Legislator Chiu Hsien-chih (邱顯智) and the Taiwan International Workers Association (TIWA) held a joint press conference on Friday (Aug. 13) to address allegations that a Sanying line construction contractor overworked and underpaid migrant workers.

RSEA Engineering Corporation (RSEA) is one of the companies contracted by the New Taipei City Government to build its MRT Sanying line, a major project with a NT$34 billion (US$1.2 billion) budget. The TIWA said that for two years, workers had been paid a base salary of NT$9,677 a month and worked up to 176 hours of overtime per month.

Aside from the NT$2,000 or NT$4,000 given to the workers to cover living costs in Taiwan, salaries were paid by the RSEA’s Indonesian business partner, PT Wijaya Karya (WIKA), in Indonesian rupiah. According to the TIWA, prior to coming to Taiwan, workers were asked to sign employment contracts with PT WIKA, the payment terms of which followed Indonesian standards.

Workers received pay stubs from the RSEA written entirely in Indonesian. Their overtime payments, rated at NT$47 per hour, were handed out in cash at the construction site.

Legally, each worker is entitled to a total of NT$54,813 for a month's work, consisting of a NT$23,800 minimum wage and overtime adding up to NT$31,013. They received NT$20,344.

This brings into question where the remaining NT$34,469 went, said TIWA President Chen Su-hsiang (陳素香). She said the case should not be treated as merely a labor dispute, and authorities should investigate whether corruption or other criminal activities are involved.

A representative from the Ministry of Labor (MOL) said since WIKA is not eligible to hire migrant workers in Taiwan, RSEA is the legal employer of the workers and must therefore take responsibility and comply with official policies. If an investigation finds there is truth in the workers’ accusations, the MOL will revoke RSEA’s employment permit and fine it up to NT$1 million.

Updated : 2021-09-28 07:35 GMT+08:00