Sat, Aug 29, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Higher wage for new foreign domestics, caregivers

PROTEST:Several hundred foreign labor agents rallied outside the Ministry of Labor against what they said were oppressive regulations that encouraged illegal workers

By Abraham Gerber  /  Staff reporter

Foreign labor agents protest outside the Ministry of Labor in Taipei yesterday against government policies they say punish legal agents and encourage illegal agent companies.

Photo: Wang Yi-sung, Taipei Times

An agreement has been reached with Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand to raise the salaries of domestic staff and caregivers from those nations, the Ministry of Labor said yesterday.

It is the first such increase in 18 years.

Starting next month, new contracts will require a monthly salary of NT$17,000, up from the current NT$15,840.

While wages for foreign migrant workers were originally equivalent to the national minimum wage, the minimum wage has gradually been increased over the years — most recently going from NT$19,273 to NT$20,008 at the beginning of last month — while the wages of foreign domestic staff and caregivers remained frozen.

Employers are required to provide food and lodging in addition to the minimum salary of foreign domestic staff and caregivers, who are not covered by the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法).

The announcement came after the Philippine and Indonesian governments last month that demanded their workers be paid NT$17,500 per month.

The ministry said it was necessary to raise the monthly minimum to continue to attract quality labor because other nations in the region offer more, including Hong Kong, where such migrant workers earn about NT$16,530 a month.

The ministry also said that it was considering raising the reward for reporting illegal foreign labor, following a protest by foreign labor agents.

About 500 agents ignored pouring rain to rally outside the ministry to protest against what they said were oppressive regulations that encouraged illegal labor.

Foreign Labor Agent Rights Self Help Association head Huang Kao-chieh (黃杲傑) said excessive regulations make it difficult to apply to hire foreign domestic help and caregivers, so many people are willing to hire runaways, even though it is illegal, and black-market salaries can reach more than NT$25,000 per month.

Higher salaries for black-market labor could account for the increasing number of foreign domestic workers and caregivers who run away from their jobs, he said.

The government fines agents when a worker absconds from their job, but then fails to take effective measures against the runaway workers themselves, Huang said.

As agents take fees from both workers and employers, they are responsible to ensure that foreign migrant workers acclimatize to Taiwan and their jobs to reduce the chance that they might run away, the ministry said.

Foreign migrant workers who run away from their jobs lose their work permits and are forbidden from re-entering the nation once they leave, the ministry said.

Additional reporting by Huang Pang-ping

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