Thu, Apr 25, 2013 - Page 4 News List

University survey shows trials of migrant workers

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

Migrant workers in Taiwan employed as domestic staff or care providers work an average of 17.72 hours a day, while 44.32 percent say they work 24 hours a day, a survey commissioned by the government has shown.

The survey was conducted by a team led by Lin Chi-fan (林啟繁), an associate professor in Shih Hsin University’s English Department, and was commissioned by the Cabinet’s Research, Development and Research Commission with the aim of understanding how satisfied migrant workers are with their lives.

Of the 1,076 migrant workers surveyed, 54.9 percent work in the industrial sector, while 45.1 percent, or about 485, are domestic workers or caregivers at private homes or social welfare institutions.

When responding to questions about working conditions, 215 of the 485 domestic workers or household care providers, or 44.32 percent, said they work 24 hours a day.

The team in charge of the survey said in a report presented to the commission that many migrant workers feel that they are at work all day long “because they do not have an extended period of time to rest or sleep.”

Lin and National Taiwan University associate professor Hsin Ping-lung (辛炳隆), another member of the team, both declined to elaborate.

Chuang Li-lan (莊麗蘭), deputy head of the commission’s Department of Research and Development, also declined to elaborate, but said the commission has referred the survey results to the Council of Labor Affairs.

Taiwan has long been criticized for its lack of legal protection for migrant domestic workers and household care providers, who do not receive a minimum wage, overtime pay, a mandatory day off, or limits on how many days a week they work.

The rights of migrant workers in the industrial sector are covered by the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法), but those of domestic workers or household care providers are not. A longstanding appeal to draft legislation covering these workers has been put on ice by the Cabinet.

The average working day for migrant workers in the industrial sector or social welfare institutions was 7.56 hours long, the survey showed.

The survey showed that migrant workers in Taiwan — of which there were 440,000 as of the end of last year — work an average of 6.33 days a week.

About 32.7 percent of those polled said they work more than 85 hours a week, 27 percent said they worked for between 49 to 72 hours each week, while just 32.5 percent said they worked less than 48 hours a week, the survey showed.

When asked to name what about working in Taiwan was different than what they had expected, 34.9 percent of respondents said they received a lower salary than they had expected, 33.3 percent said they are unsatisfied with their board and accommodation; and 30.5 percent said they had not expected such unreasonable work schedules, the survey showed.

Only 59 percent of those surveyed said they were satisfied with the amount of time they are given to take days off or go on vacation — these were presumably workers employed in industry and covered by the Labor Standards Act.

The survey team also presented a list of suggestions to the Cabinet, which included the government requiring employers to provide domestic workers and household caregivers a paid day off in a “timely and adequate” fashion, and enforcing this requirement strictly.

The survey was conducted from Aug. 1 to Sept. 15 last year and the report was sent to the commission in December of that year.

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