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Garmin accused of forcing pregnant migrant worker out, breaking Taiwan law

Legislator and advocacy groups call for investigation

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Taiwan Association for Human Rights Chairperson Shih I-hsiang is calling on the Taoyuan city government to investigate Garmin for illegal termina...

Taiwan Association for Human Rights Chairperson Shih I-hsiang is calling on the Taoyuan city government to investigate Garmin for illegal termina... (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — GPS and outdoor technology manufacturer Garmin has been accused of violating labor laws after forcing a migrant worker to quit because she was pregnant.

The migrant worker said that she was put on immediate leave after she told her supervisor she was pregnant, and shortly afterwards signed resignation papers presented to her by Garmin management because she believed there was no other choice, per Taiwan People News. The woman said she was not informed of laws that forbid using pregnancy as an excuse for terminating employment by either her employment agency or Garmin, and that she did not know she had the right to maternity leave when signing the resignation papers.

Taiwan People’s Party Legislator Lai Hsiang-ling (賴香伶) called on Taoyuan City Government to investigate Garmin, and doubted that a large, multinational company such as Garmin was not aware of Taiwan’s labor laws. According to article 11 of Taiwan’s Act of Gender Equality in Employment, it is illegal to use pregnancy, childbirth, or child care activities as an excuse to terminate an employment contract.

“If even Garmin cannot guarantee the protection of pregnant migrant workers, this means treatment for female migrant workers at small and medium-sized enterprises in Taiwan must be even less fair,” Lai said. She also called on the Taoyuan City Government to require factories with more than 100 migrant workers to provide employees with gender equality information.

Taiwan Association for Human Rights (TAHR) Chair Shih I-hsiang (施逸翔) said that the dismissal not only violates Taiwan law, but also United Nations conventions on human rights. “TAHR will continue to monitor how the relevant government authorities can effectively sanction Garmin to avoid similar incidents from happening again in the future,” Shih said.

Nearly 15,000 migrant workers arrived in Taiwan in the first two months of this year from Vietnam alone, and the government is considering sourcing more migrant workers to make up for a 12,000-person shortage of agricultural laborers. Many major Taiwan companies employ migrant workers, including I-Mei Foods, the parent company of Taiwan News.

Taiwan’s migrant workers are often sourced from Southeast Asian countries, work in manufacturing or healthcare, and are attracted to Taiwan by the relatively higher wages. The average salary for a migrant worker in Taiwan employed in a factory setting was just over NT$32,000 (US$1000) per month in 2022.

The U.S. founded and Switzerland-based Garmin produces 95% of its output in Taiwan, and recorded a revenue of US$4.86 billion in 2022.