Sat, Nov 05, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Foreign laborers protest `slavery'

TREAT US RIGHT Foreign workers protested in front of the Legislative Yuan yesterday, hoping that the premier would hear their complaints about alleged extortion and mistreatment

By Jenny Chou  /  STAFF REPORTER

Filipino laborers and human-rights groups protested the mistreatment of foreign workers outside the Executive Yuan yesterday, loudly chanting slogans such as "Anti-Trafficking and Anti-Slave System," and demanding that attention be paid to their plight.

"In September, Premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) said the human-rights abuse of Thai laborers involved in the Kaohsiung Rapid Transit scandal was just a single case among the 300,000 foreign laborers in Taiwan, but this is not true," said Taiwan International Workers' Association Chairperson, Susan Chen (陳素香).

"There are many such cases and when attention is drawn to them, the foreign labor workers involved are often sent home. `White terror' in factories across Taiwan is a serious matter," she added.

Chen spoke of how some workers at Golden Sun Co were repatriated after protesting to the Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) about their working conditions on May 21. There was also the case of 18 Filipino laborers, contracted to Formosa plastics, who were repatriated following a strike at the factory on July 14 and 15 in Mailiao Township (麥寮), Yunlin County.

According to Chen, laborers at Golden Sun Co often worked 16-hour shifts amounting to 200 hours a week, which contravenes labor laws specifying that overtime should not exceed 46 hours a month.

"We don't know why our salaries are so small, we work so many hours. We do so many hours overtime. We work from 8am until 12pm," said Carolyn, a Filipino worker at Golden Sun Co.

Rosemary, another Filipino worker at Kohkawa Co Ltd, spoke of how they were often woken up in the middle of the night to work by male supervisors, who were sometimes drunk.

The secretary-general of the Taiwan International Workers' Association, Ku Yu-ling (顧玉玲), also spoke of sub-contracting, which occurs in less busy periods at Kohkawa Co Ltd, to factories in Tamsui (淡水) and Shulin (樹林).

"If this isn't human trafficking, then what is?" he said.

Chen expressed that they were protesting in front of the Executive Yuan because they hoped Premier Frank Hsieh would create an inter-departmental team to investigate and monitor human trafficking.

She said that the CLA had failed to respond to their pleas for a change in policy in the hiring of foreign labor for 6 years.

"Realistically, human trafficking involves many departments and not just the CLA," she said

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Joanna Lei (雷倩), said, "How Hsieh deals with the matter of foreign labor rights will be a mirror reflecting the attitude of this nation."

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