Tue, Jun 11, 2019 - Page 4 News List

Migrant center seeks help

SUPPORT:Migrant workers said employers demanded that they do work they were not hired to do, denied them regular leave and monitored them on days off

Staff writer, with CNA

The Taipei-based Garden of Hope Foundation on Sunday urged the government to provide inter-agency support to a new migrant assistance center, saying that some migrants, such as workers and students, face difficulties in Taiwan.

The non-governmental organization devoted to providing assistance to socially disadvantaged people opened a migrant assistance center on the same day.

Center director Kaili Lee (李凱莉) said that the facility was established to provide counseling and information on migrants’ legal rights.

The center will also work on migrant empowerment, international exchanges, and transforming itself into a platform to promote understanding between mainstream Taiwanese society and migrants, Lee said.

She expressed hope that the government would support the center with services from authorities including the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the Ministry of Labor, the Ministry of Education and the National Immigration Agency.

The foundation is a non-profit group established in 1988 to help disadvantaged girls and young women, especially girls caught in the sex industry, survivors of sexual abuse and domestic violence, as well as survivors of human trafficking.

From one halfway house, its services have grown to include shelters and service centers nationwide, providing everything from counseling and temporary housing to employment training, social work and legal aid, the foundation said.

Lee said that even though the government expects employers to provide at least two days leave per month for migrant workers, in reality they commonly endure harsh working conditions, including salary deductions if they take days off.

Many migrants handle their problems based on advice from friends, which might not be completely accurate or useful, she said.

Several migrant workers shared their stories at Sunday’s press event.

A-tao, a 40-year-old Vietnamese migrant worker who came to Taiwan in 2017, said that her employer demanded that she do housework, even though she was hired as a carer for an elderly family member.

Melody, a Filipina migrant worker who has been working in Taiwan for 10 years, said she had no regular leave during her first eight years in Taiwan when she worked for her first employer and was monitored by the family’s driver whenever she went out during rare rest days.

At her second job, Melody said that she was given no rest time, as she cared for two elderly people around the clock at a hospital.

This prompted her to seek settlement at the migrant protection department of the New Taipei City Government, Melody said.

A single mother, Melody has a new employer who she said has treated her well, giving her the strength to carry on.

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