Citing concerns over worker rights and long-term government policy, lawmakers yesterday failed to reach a consensus on a controversial revision that would allow foreign caregivers to spend more time in Taiwan.
The debate began after C.V. Chen (陳長文), the head of Taiwan’s Red Cross Society and a former senior government official, launched a public appeal last week to extend a license for his son’s caregiver. Chen said his son suffers from severe disabilities and requires fulltime care.
Currently, the Employment Service Act (就業服務法) prohibits foreign caregivers residing in Taiwan to work for more than nine years. Chen said he wanted to see this extended to 12 years, suggesting that this would provide for more consistent care and cut down on retraining fees.
Lawmakers from both parties said after a screening session that this move, which has already passed a preliminary committee review, would likely contradict a long-term policy aimed at reducing the amount of foreign caregivers and replacing them with family-based support.
“Even without foreign caregivers, I believe that we can give the same amount of care to our children with severe [disabilities],” said Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chen Chiech-ju (陳節如), who countered that her 36-year-old son also had special needs, but was taken care of by family members.
Noting that there were hundreds of thousands of families around the country facing similar challenges, she said that it was important that Taiwan move towards developing a set of long-term care standards that would not be completely reliant on increasing the numbers of foreign caregivers.
There are currently more than 170,000 foreign caregivers working throughout the nation out of a total number of 374,000 migrant workers, despite efforts to stem the increase, according to statistics from the Council of Labor Affairs. A recent report from the Control Yuan revealed that 33,000 of these foreign workers are currently unaccounted for.
Job opportunities in Taiwan for domestic help would be adversely affected if the employment of foreign caregivers was extended three more years, said Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Ho Tsai-feng (侯彩鳳), citing numbers that show more than 600,000 Taiwanese still out of work.
As the result of yesterday’s breakdown in talks, it is unlikely that the proposed amendment will clear the legislative floor before the legislature goes into recess next Wednesday.
Both parties have, however, shied away from rejecting the proposal outright, with KMT caucus whip Lin Yi-shih (林益世) saying that the majority of his caucus members still leaned in favor and would look for another time to review the proposed changes.
DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) also agreed that more discussion was needed.
There are concerns among DPP lawmakers that an extension would be detrimental to working conditions for the foreign caregivers, who could be pressured by their employers to remain in Taiwan for the full 12 years, if the amendment passed.
“We have to look at the fairness and health of these [caregivers] ... and how leaving their homes for 12 years could adversely affect them,” Chen Chiech-ju said. “We don’t have any plans for dealing with these [potential issues].”
The council, which oversees applications to hire foreign labor, has said that it does not oppose the amendment — maintaining that domestic job opportunities would not be affected — although labor groups and an organization representing the disabled have both spoken out against it.
Alliance for the Disabled secretary-general Wang Yu-ling (王幼玲), appearing at the same press conference with Chen Chiech-ju, suggested continued reliance on foreign caregivers would add to the impression that only they are able to take care of people with severe disabilities.
“It was a mistake from the start,” she said. “It has resulted in families today only being able to choose between foreign caregivers. The government [should] try and promote a better long-term care system.”
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY STAFF WRITER
UNDER INVESTIGATION: Huang’s body was found just outside the bathroom and showed no signs of a struggle, and no alcohol or drugs were found Singer and actor Alien Huang (黃鴻升) was found dead at his home in Taipei’s Beitou District (北投) yesterday. He was 36. Huang was also known by the nickname Xiao Gui (“little ghost”). His body was found when his father went to check on him after being unable to reach him by telephone, and called emergency services to the house at 11am, the Taipei City Police Department said. Huang’s body, which was discovered just outside the bathroom, showed no signs of a physical struggle, and he appeared to have been dead for some time, police said, adding that no drugs or alcohol were
CONFIRMED IN PHILIPPINES: The CECC would conduct contact tracing for the migrant workers to determine if they had come into contact with elderly people or children Six Filipinos tested positive for COVID-19 upon returning home from Taiwan, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday as it reported a case of imported COVID-19 infection, bringing the number of confirmed cases in Taiwan to 500. Philippine authorities reported four of the cases through the National IHR Focal Point, while the other two were reported by the company that they had worked for in Taiwan. The six — five women and one man — are aged from their 20s to 40s, and worked as in-home care workers, domestic workers, factory workers and sailors in Taiwan, said Minister of Health and
TIME FOR CHANGE: Most of those at a public hearing organized by the DPP’s Chung Chia-pin also agreed that the Control Yuan and Examination Yuan should be abolished Taiwan needs a new constitution, as the current one was adopted in Nanjing in 1946, when the Republic of China (ROC) represented all of China, while the Control Yuan and Examination Yuan should be abolished, legal experts and academics said yesterday during a public hearing at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei. Chang Kun-sheng (張錕盛), a law professor and secretary-general of the Taiwan Administrative Law Association, said that it is time to draft a new constitution. The ROC Constitution was adopted during a National Constituent Assembly meeting in Nanjing shortly after World War II and before the Chinese Civil War had fully erupted,
The COVID-19 pandemic might not have originated from a seafood market in Wuhan, China, National Taiwan University College of Public Health professor Tony Chen (陳秀熙) said yesterday. While many countries are experiencing second waves of COVID-19 infections, many are also lifting lockdowns to revive their economies, allowing travelers to cross national borders, Chen said. Academics have been questioning whether genetic mutations in the novel coronavirus in different countries have made it more infectious, he added. Academics from different backgrounds have conducted phylogenetic analysis of SARS-CoV-2 genome sequences, he said, adding that the studies can help scientists understand how the virus spread among