Wed, Sep 12, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Groups urge ministry to change dorm regulations

INACTION:One protester said the Ministry of Labor has been unwilling to impose on a ban on dorms connected to factory complexes, despite 14 deaths in six months

By Ann Maxon  /  Staff reporter

A coalition of labor and environmental groups yesterday called for regulations requiring employers to separate workers’ dormitories from factory complexes at a protest outside the Ministry of Labor, which they said has been “disregarding the lives of migrant workers” by waiting for an interministerial meeting to address the issue.

About 50 people from Hope Workers’ Center, the National Association for Firefighters’ Rights, the Green Citizens’ Action Alliance and other groups rallied in front of the ministry on Taipei’s Guanqian Road, demanding that the ministry take immediate actions to improve the safety of migrant workers.

“All we ask is that the ministry require workers’ dorms to be in a building that is not connected to the factory complex — that there be a safety distance between the two,” Hope Workers’ Center member Hsu Wei-tung (許維棟) said.

“In the past six months, 14 people have died in factory fires, but apparently 14 lives are not enough to make the ministry willing to establish one rule banning dorms connected to factory complexes,” he added.

The groups have been advocating the measure since May, after an April blaze at a Chin-Poon Industrial Co factory in Taoyuan killed two Thai workers in the dorm and six firefighters who entered the building in an attempt to save them.

The dormitory was an illegal structure with no windows, built on top of the factory complex.

Before the Chin-Poon Industrial fire, a blaze at a Sican Co factory in Taoyuan in December last year killed six Vietnamese who were in the dorm, which was an illegal metal-sheet hut connected to the factory complex.

“I ask the responsible authorities in Taiwan to investigate all factories in the nation and ensure that workers do not have to live in dorms connected to their factories, so that they would not end up losing their lives like my son. And I would sincerely thank them if they could do that,” said Nguyen Huy Than, whose 20-year-old son Nguyen Van Trai died in the Sican fire.

Nguyen Huy Than is in Taiwan to attend a hearing today at the Taiyuan District Prosecutors’ Office. He filed a lawsuit in May against the company for criminal negligence causing death.

While the ministry in June passed a series of measures to improve the living conditions of migrant workers, it has decided to leave the issue of separating dorms from factory complexes for future interministerial meetings on the grounds that it involves regulations drafted by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Ministry of the Interior, said Chiu Yi-chia (邱怡嘉), a social worker at the Vietnamese Migrant Workers and Brides Office of the Catholic Church’ Hsinchu Diocese.

“Three months have passed and there has been absolutely no sign of an interministerial meeting or progress on the issue,” she said.

New regulations regarding the separation of dorms from factory complexes need to be assessed by the economic ministry, the National Fire Agency and the Construction and Planning Agency, the labor ministry said in a statement, adding that the regulations would be amended as soon the assessments are completed.

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