Sat, Dec 13, 2014 - Page 4 News List

Ma’s foreign labor policies need reassessing: activists

ACCIDENTAL DEATH:A Chinese worker fell to his death on a construction site, highlighting the dangers shared by at least 5,000 Chinese workers in Taiwan

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

Labor rights advocacy groups yesterday referenced the death of a Chinese technician, who died on Wednesday while installing an elevator in New Taipei City, saying the foreign labor policies adopted by President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration have exposed at least 5,000 Chinese workers to potentially fatal occupational injuries.

The technician fell into an elevator shaft on the second floor falling to seven stories below ground level while installing an elevator at the Farglory U-Town commercial building complex in New Taipei City’s Sijhih District (汐止).

Taiwan Labor Front secretary-general Son Yu-liam (孫友聯) told a news conference in Taipei that as a result of the Regulations Governing the Entry Permission to Taiwan Area for the People from Mainland China (大陸地區人民進入台灣地區許可辦法), Chinese workers, unlike other foreigners, are not under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Labor and therefore are not protected by the Labor Insurance Act (勞工保險條例).

“President Ma Ying-jeou said he would not allow Chinese to work in Taiwan, so the regulations were formulated. Consequently, Chinese come here in the name of ‘fulfilling a contract,’ as required by the regulations. However, they are no different from other laborers,” Son said.

The regulations stipulate that any firm with five or more employees should purchase labor insurance for its employees, but since Chinese are not overseen by the Labor Insurance Act, the rule does not apply to them, Son said.

There also exists a lack of legal standards for Chinese workers’ minimum wage. It is required that foreign workers be paid a monthly salary of at least NT$47,971 (US$1,533). As such, Chinese laborers provide a convenient option for employers who wish to cut costs, and they threaten job opportunities for Taiwanese, Son said.

He added that workers from every nation in the world are required to obtain a work permit before they are allowed to work in Taiwan, except for China.

National Taiwan University Institute of Health Policy and Management professor Cheng Ya-wen (鄭雅文) said that workers in the construction industry are a high-risk group in terms of occupational injury, because many are part-time workers employed by small contractors.

These problems cause a great deal of confusion and inconvenience when determining legal responsibilities when occupational injuries or fatalities arise, she said.

The labor rights advocates urged for occupational injury insurance to be provided to all employees once a contract is agreed between the worker and the employer, and called for punishments for employers who deny workers insurance to reduce costs.

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