Sat, Jun 09, 2018 - Page 8 News List

Caregivers need a day off once a week as well

By Kimyung Keng 何景榮

Many past migrant worker protests have presented bystanders with a peculiar sight: domestic helpers, commonly referred to as foreign household caregivers, protesting and shouting slogans, demanding that their employers allow them time off, while at the same time pushing their employers — often disabled elderly Taiwanese — in wheelchairs and continuing to care for them.

Employees bringing their employers to demonstrations where they protest against their employers — surely this must be a unique Taiwanese contribution to the history of the labor movement.

This is symbolic of migrant workers’ diligence, benevolence and sense of responsibility.

Many Taiwanese in the prime of life, working far from home are hiring foreign domestic helpers, who are supposed to accompany their elderly parents around the clock, 365 days a year, with no holidays, for meager wages.

Not even on Sundays, when employers enjoy a day off and migrant workers should be enjoying a day off as well, do they go home to spend time with their parents.

Not having the heart to leave someone else’s old mother alone at home, these kindhearted migrant workers have no choice but to take those in their care with them as they go out to spend the day outside, while they continue to work when they should be enjoying a day off.

Unless these employers work as hard as the migrant workers they hire, spending 24 hours a day, every day of the year, to care for their own bosses, they — the sons and daughters of those being cared for by domestic helpers, the ones who use their work as an excuse for not caring for their elderly parents and instead pay migrant workers to care for them and fulfill their duties as a son or a daughter — really should spend some time with their parents.

Many of these migrant workers that come to Taiwan from Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam to work as domestic helpers do so because they want to improve the circumstances of their own family and find a way to earn the money they need to to pay tuition fees for their children.

Many of them are parents themselves.

Taiwanese employers should not shirk their responsibility to care for their parents and exploit migrant workers — who are also parents — for their own convenience.

Migrant worker advocates and non-governmental organizations are holding a demonstration tomorrow to demand that domestic helpers be given the basic human right to take one day off every week.

Hopefully, the Taiwanese employers who do not fulfill their duties as sons and daughters during the week can go home and stay with their parents at the weekend, thus allowing migrant mothers to take a break, leave the house and get a breath of fresh air.

Handing over the task of looking after one’s elderly mother to another, middle-aged, mother only makes things worse for the already disadvantaged and this is a situation that should be remedied.

Indonesian-Taiwanese Kimyung Keng is an assistant professor at Feng Chia University.

Translated by Chang Ho-ming

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