Wed, Apr 12, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Legal disputes with migrant workers ahead: legislator

LEGAL LANDSLIDE:If the 130,000 Philippine workers demand refunds for their board and lodgings, employers could be liable for NT$10bn, the KMT’s Apollo Chen said

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

A discrepancy in the stipulations concerning board and lodgings in a contract provided to migrant workers by the Philippine government, and in a legal document issued by the Ministry of Labor might lead to legal disputes, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Apollo Chen (陳學聖) said yesterday.

The “Employment Contract for Factory Workers/Construction Workers” provided by the Labor Center of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office, which is signed by migrant workers before they come to Taiwan, states that free board and lodging are to be provided by employers, Chen said.

However, the Ministry of Labor’s “Foreign Worker’s Affidavit for Wage/Salary and Expenses Incurred before Entering the Republic of China for Employment,” which is also signed by the workers before they come to Taiwan and verified by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, states that employers would charge employees a monthly fee for board and lodging, Chen said.

A factory in Taoyuan has told him that some of its Philippine workers are planning to claim back the fees that have paid for board and lodging, which they said should have been free according to the terms of their contracts, Chen said.

“In the affidavit, it is agreed that there is a monthly fee for board and lodging,” he said.

Assuming that a NT$2,500 (US$81.57) monthly fee was paid by each worker, if the 130,000 Philippine migrant workers in Taiwan are assumed to have worked an average of three years, the amount at stake would be more than NT$10 billion, Chen said, urging the ministry to come up with a solution.

Similar disputes have arisen since 2008, “but at the beginning it involved migrant workers regardless of their nationality,” ministry official Su Yu-kuo (蘇裕國) said. “Since then we have reached agreements and ironed out inconsistencies with all the governments involved except Manila, which in 2013 changed its contract [to demand free board and lodging] and has since been insistent on retaining the clause despite our requests,” he said.

In 2008 and 2013 the ministry declared that employers could make consensual agreements with workers to change their contracts to eliminate the discrepancy and bring them into line with the affadavit — under the condition that the workers’ basic rights are protected, Su said, adding that employers that have done so will have the upper hand in any lawsuits filed on the matter.

“We will continue our efforts to communicate with the Philippine government at the meeting scheduled for August between the two countries’ ministers of labor,” Su said.

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