“Long-term care workers are severely exploited due to government inaction. Migrants’ rights are human rights,” members of the Migrants’ Empowerment Network in Taiwan (MENT) shouted outside the Executive Yuan in Taipei yesterday.
The draft Household Services Act (家事服務法), which guarantees the legal protection of household workers, still has not passed since its first introduction in 2003.
MENT, a network consisting of several non-governmental migrant support groups and the Taiwan International Workers’ Association, said that the average number of working hours of the 220,000 foreign domestic workers and caregivers in Taiwan is 15 hours a day, and 43 percent did not get any days off during the first three years of work.
The 220,000 foreign domestic workers are hired by 28 percent of the total of 700,000 families registered as requiring long-term care (LTC) services, while about 454,000 households (65 percent) rely on family members and 28,000 (4 percent) on institutes, MENT said.
Only 3 percent of the families requiring care services benefit from government-provided care services.
The numbers reveal that as many as 93 percent of families requiring LTC services shoulder the burden on their own. More than 450,000 caregivers are exploited economically, physically and psychologically as they are forced to work without being paid, with little help from scarce respite care and home care services provided by the government, MENT said.
Deprived of any legal protection or respite, more than 200,000 migrant domestic workers are facing an even worse situation, working round the clock all year long, not to mention the sexual harassment endured by care workers, it added.
Joe Yu-cho Chang (張裕焯), supervisor of the Vietnamese Migrant Workers and Brides Office, urged the government to work on a public LTC system that incorporates both family members who serve as caregivers and migrant domestic workers, instead of leaving out the latter group as has been proposed in a draft of the long-term care service act.
“With the exclusion of the migrant domestic workers and a scant supply of local professional caregivers, the act is simply hollow. People who need long-term care would collect their share of long-term care insurance, which is also being proposed, and use the money to hire migrant domestic workers. This would wreck the possibility of building a comprehensive and sound public LTC system,” Chang said.
“The public LTC insurance that took effect in Germany in 1995, for example, offers an option of collecting money for LTC needs. This has resulted in a paltry 13 percent of policyholders using government-provided LTC services. Without robust demand, a public service cannot thrive,” Chang said.
MENT warned that because Taiwan does not have a well-developed and inclusive LTC system, migrant workers and family caregivers are exposed to exploitation.