Sat, Jun 02, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Migrant fisher describes abuse to legislature

Staff writer, with CNA

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chen Man-li, center, yesterday takes questions at a news conference at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei about abuses faced by Indonesian migrant fishermen.

Photo: Huang Yao-cheng, Taipei Times

An Indonesian migrant fisherman yesterday said he was mistreated by his Taiwanese employer and broker — including physical abuse and unpaid wages — and is hoping that labor officials can help him.

“I came to Taiwan to work so I can send money back home. I never expected things to be the way they are now,” the sailor, who identified himself as Safrudin, said through an interpreter at a news conference at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei.

Safrudin could not hold back his tears as he recalled how his broker left him in the lurch when he had no money for food, because his employer was behind in paying him his salary.

“I went to the broker hoping that he could lend me NT$1,000. I was in need of some money for food, but he turned me down. I was very upset,” Safrudin said.

Since he was in May last year transferred by his broker to the Man Chang No. 66, a fishing vessel registered in Yilan County, he has often had his salary withheld and was not paid for work in February and March, Safrudin said.

In April, Safrudin contacted the Yilan Migrant Fishermen Union, seeking help, and he has been temporarily placed in a shelter run by the Serve the People Association in Taoyuan, another labor group.

The Yilan union applied to have the Yilan Department of Labor Affairs mediate the case and the department has discussed the case with his employer, the owner of the vessel, but Safrudin has still not received his back pay, union secretary-general Allison Lee (李麗華) said at the news conference.

At a mediation session at the department’s office on May 10, the employer punched Safrudin in the chest several times before labor officials showed up and then refused to pay him the wages owed him in full, Safrudin and campaigners said.

The employer accused Safrudin of being lazy, but labor officials said that records showed he worked every day in February and March, the labor groups said in a statement.

Labor officials were initially reluctant to handle the case and suggested that Safrudin directly sue his employer, Lee said, adding that labor officials have the legal authority to resolve the issue, which would save the employee from having to wage a long legal battle.

Chuang Kuo-liang (莊國良) and Luo Chiiao-yin (羅巧穎), who yesterday represented the Ministry of Labor and the department, respectively, vowed to continue investigating the case.

They said they would hold the employer and broker accountable for breaches of regulations governing the employment of migrant fishermen the allegations are found to be true.

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