Mon, Mar 06, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Office reiterates commitment to workers’ rights

ABUSE:An Indonesian worker at a Kaohsiung tofu factory said she was held against her will and forced to work for 15 hours a day for 14 years

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

The government yesterday reiterated its commitment to safeguarding workers’ welfare and fundamental human rights, after the US Department of State’s latest human rights report singled out Taiwan’s exploitation of migrant workers as one of its principal human rights problems.

“The government attaches great importance to labor rights,” Presidential Office spokesman Alex Huang (黃重諺) said, citing the administration’s efforts to increase the minimum wage, enforce the policy of one day off per week and cancel a requirement mandating that migrant workers must leave the nation at least one day every three years.

Huang said President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) administration plans to devote itself to upgrading domestic industries in a bid to improve the nation’s working environment through the improvement of overall economic welfare.

Huang’s remarks came after publication on Friday of the US report for last year, which draws attention to Taiwan’s exploitation of foreign crew members on long-haul fishing boats and foreign caregivers.

Other human rights problems in Taiwan underscored by the report include government corruption, domestic violence, violations of legal working hours and media self-censorship with regard to China.

The report came on the heels of the government’s issuance of a NT$1.2 million (US$38,685) fine late last month to a Kaohsiung-based tofu processing factory that had allegedly been illegally hiring and mistreating Indonesian workers.

One of the workers said she was held against her will and forced to work 15 hours per day for 14 years.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a news release yesterday stating that protection of human rights has been one of the government’s major priorities.

“In recent years, we have ratified and actively executed international human rights covenants to improve the nation’s human rights record,” the ministry said, adding that the government’s promotion of pension reform, judicial reform, transitional justice, Aboriginal history, and housing policy also represent similar efforts.

The ministry said it would gather responses to the US report from government agencies and continue to communicate with Washington over the issue.

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