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Pregnant Vietnamese worker at Garmin gets job back after protests

Worker hopes migrant workers' rights are better respected in future

Vietnamese migrant worker Bui Thi Nhung (center) speaks at a press conference held on April 26 to publicize her case. (Facebook, Taiwan Serve the...

Vietnamese migrant worker Bui Thi Nhung (center) speaks at a press conference held on April 26 to publicize her case. (Facebook, Taiwan Serve the...

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Multinational technology giant Garmin has given a pregnant Vietnamese migrant worker her job back after protests from labor and human rights groups.

Vietnamese factory worker Bui Thi Nhung’s employment at Garmin’s Xizhi factory in New Taipei was terminated when management discovered she was pregnant. Garmin approached her with resignation papers but offered no translation for the documents, nor was she informed of her labor rights. Therefore, she felt she had no choice but to resign.

Speaking to Taiwan News through a Vietnamese translator on Wednesday (May 3), Bui said that while she is happy Garmin has decided to reemploy her, she hopes the company will provide similar treatment to other migrant workers in the future, even if their situation does not receive media attention like hers. Bui added that if other migrant workers experience a similar situation, they should seek translation if they do not understand what is being asked of them.

In response to the accusation that Bui was forced out of her job, the company said on Friday (April 28) that the worker resigned voluntarily because she wanted to return to her home country in order to give birth, contradicting Bui’s statement. Tian Chi-feng (田奇峰) of the Taoyuan Serve the People Association has been supporting Bui and told Taiwan News that Bui never expressed a wish to return home.

Garmin's PR agency told Taiwan News that negotiations with Bui have resulted in her reemployment, and they will make changes to internal processes to prevent similar incidents.

Major Taiwanese companies employ migrant workers, including I-Mei Foods, the parent company of Taiwan News. Nearly 15,000 migrant workers arrived in Taiwan in the first two months of 2023 from Vietnam alone, and the government is considering new schemes to allow for more migrant workers to make up for the country's shortage of agricultural laborers.

Taiwan’s migrant workers are often sourced from Southeast Asian countries, work in manufacturing or healthcare, and are attracted to Taiwan by 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.

Taiwan consistently ranks as one of the best destinations in the world for “expats," however issues of discrimination, poor working conditions, and labor rights violations for migrant workers persist.