Mon, Feb 17, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Foreign caregivers seek labor protection

CNA , TAIPEI

Indonesian caregiver Siti shows photos of herself taken after being injured from abuse by her employers during a press conference in Taipei yesterday. The injuries left her blind in one eye. The press conference was held by social activist groups helping foreign workers amid the uproar over writer Liu Hsia's death after allegedly being beaten by her caregiver.

PHOTO: CHIANG YING-YING, TAIPEI TIMES

A number of social welfare groups called yesterday for legislation to help protect the interests of foreign housemaids and caregivers working in Taiwan, following the tragic death of National Policy Advisor to the President Liu Hsia (劉俠), who died of injuries allegedly inflicted by her Indonesian caregiver.

The Taiwan International Labor Association, the Chinese Islamic Association and two Catholic panels issued the call, along with a declaration at a joint conference in which they urged the government to enact a "housework service act" to cover housemaids and caregivers, regardless of nationality, who are not protected under the terms of the Employment Service Act.

The government should provide legal protection for both Taiwanese and foreigners employed as maids and caregivers for elderly, disabled and chronically sick people, they said, suggesting that working hours and labor conditions should be clearly stipulated in such a law to prevent conflict between employees and their employers.

Lorna Kung (龔尤倩), an official at the Taiwan International Labor Association, said Liu's death has shocked the public and claimed that both employers and foreign housemaids often fall victim to Taiwan's legal system.

As a result of lax social welfare policy, local families have to look after old or seriously ill family members without government assistance, which has led to the need for foreign caregivers and housekeepers, Kung pointed out, adding that a lack of adequate legislation to protect foreign housemaids and caregivers has further worsened the situation.

"There is no clear definition of housekeepers and caregivers' duties, working hours, and salaries. We hope that the government can set up clear regulations to define these issues," she said.

She strongly urged the government to implement a "housework services act" and a "caregiver service law" (家事服務法) to give clear definitions of the terms of employment for such jobs.

The wheelchair-bound Liu, a well-known writer and long-time activist for the disabled, passed away Feb. 8 after being attacked by her caregiver. She was 61.

The caregiver has since been diagnosed as suffering from a mental disorder.

The caregiver has claimed that she was never given time off from her job because of the difficulty Liu had in finding a temporary replacement. The overwork and resulting stress might be responsible fir the caregiver's mental condition.

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