Migrant workers are to hold a protest on Sunday demanding a switch from the brokerage employment system to a government-to-government direct hiring system, the Taiwan International Workers’ Association said yesterday.
The brokerage system should be abolished to prevent migrant workers from being exploited, the association said at a news conference in front of the Ministry of Labor building in Taipei.
The government should shoulder responsibility by including the protection of migrant workers’ rights in its public services, it said.
Association member Chen Hsiu-lien (陳秀蓮) said that migrant workers are charged a brokerage fee, or “job-buying fee,” by a broker in their native nation, followed by a second fee charged by a placement agency when they arrive, with the total amount ranging from NT$60,000 to NT$200,000.
“Some even have to continue submitting monthly fees to brokers after they are hired, with the total amount reaching up to NT$60,000 over three years,” she added.
The monopoly of placement agencies for migrant workers should be broken and replaced by a direct-hiring system in which a government-run agency directly employs workers from other nations, she said.
The Workforce Development Agency said that the implementation of a direct-hiring system faces many hurdles, as it requires cooperation from labor-exporting nations, citing Indonesian laws that mandate that first-time employment of Indonesian workers be coordinated by a placement agency.
The ministry would continue to push for changes to those laws in bilateral meetings, the agency said.
Besides placement agencies, there are other channels in place for employers to hire migrant workers, it said. They can be directly hired or with the assistance of a service center established by the ministry.
Presented with proof of brokers charging exorbitant fees, the ministry and local authorities would administer punishments as the brokers are regulated by the Employment Service Act (就業服務法), the agency said.
The importation of workers should operate on a free-market basis, while the ministry continues monitoring and checking the mechanisms in its bid to create a healthier environment for migrant workers, it said.
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