Wed, Feb 07, 2007 - Page 2 News List

CLA warns Manila over changes in labor requests

WHOSE RIGHT?Labor officials said that Manila's demand for the right to question Taiwanese employers was an infringement on the nation's `administrative sovereignty'

STAFF WRITER , WITH CNA

Labor officials on Monday said that while the government agreed in principle with the measures proposed by the Philippine government to protect its workers in Taiwan, it warned Manila against interfering with Taiwan's internal administration or encroaching upon its administrative sovereignty.

The Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) officials were responding to media reports that the Philippine government will implement a package of measures from March, which include demands that Tai-wanese employers provide their Philippine household servants or helpers with a eparate room for sleeping and that Philippine workers intending to change employers should apply for approval with the Philippine representative office in Taiwan.

In the process, the media reports said, the Philippine government will also require Taiwanese employers to explain why the Philippine workers were changing employers.

The measure aims to put a stop to deceptive labor practices, such as Philippine workers arriving and finding themselves working at families or companies and under conditions that are different from those stated in their contract.

Council officials asserted, how-ever, that the Taiwanese government had spared no effort in protecting the rights and interests of foreign people working in the country, adding that the council respected the proposed measure demanding employers provide a separate sleeping room for their Philippine household or family helpers.

However, the officials said that the council could not agree to the proposed measures requiring local employers to answer the Philippine representative office's questions and Filipino workers applying to its representative office for approval before changing employers.

Such measures would infringe upon Taiwan's administrative sovereignty, the officials said, adding that it was an international norm and custom that the labor importing country's legal provisions should be respected in handling labor disputes.

Stressing that the CLA, as well as city and county governments around Taiwan, have proper mechanisms in place to handle labor disputes, including change of employers, the officials said that the Philippine government should not try to interfere with Taiwan's labor administration or exercise of its administrative sovereignty.

Since labor rights protection is a universal value and one of Taiwan's top policy guidelines, the officials said that the council would ask Taiwan's representative office in Manila to gain a better understanding of details of the proposed measures and to negotiate with the Philippine agencies.

According to a US State Department report, Taiwan employs more than 350,000 workers from Southeast Asian nations, including the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam.

Taiwan was placed under the Tier 2 Watch List of the State Department's 2006 Trafficking in Persons report released last June for "its failure to show evidence of increasing efforts over the past year to address trafficking, despite ample re-sources to do so, particularly the serious level of forced labor and sexual servitude among legally migrating Southeast Asian contract workers."

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