Mon, Dec 09, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Migrant workers protest the broker system in Taipei

By Sherry Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

Migrant workers in Taipei yesterday destroy an effigy of a labor broker during a demonstration calling for the abolition of the broker system.

Photo: CNA

Hundreds of foreign migrant workers yesterday held a rally in Taipei calling for the broker system to be replaced with a “government to government” (G2G) scheme.

Since 2003, the Migrants Empowerment Network in Taiwan (MENT) has hosted a rally once every two years to push for better working conditions for migrant workers in Taiwan, organizers said.

More than a dozen groups, including the Taiwan International Workers’ Association, the Hsinchu Catholic Diocese Migrants and Immigrants Service Center, the Confederation of Taipei Trade Unions, the Taiwan Tongzhi (LGBTQ) Hotline Association and the Awakening Foundation, were represented at yesterday’s rally.

MENT estimated that more than 500 people participated.

Starting at about 1:45pm, migrant workers and advocates marched from the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) headquarters to the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) headquarters, before stopping outside the Ministry of Labor near Taipei Railway Station.

Demonstrators held signs with messages such as: “You select and purchase us, but we are people too,” and “We are human not products.”

As they marched, they chanted their demand: “We want G2G. Abolish the broker system.”

The rally’s organizers said that they spent a year collecting the stories of 15 migrant workers from Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam to be printed as a book.

The wanted to present copies of the book to the presidential candidates of the KMT and the DPP, they said.

“We pay so much money,” a Philippine migrant worker who asked to be identified as Iyah said.

Iyah said she must pay her broker NT$1,800 per month in the first year of her three-year contract, NT$1,700 per month during the second year and NT$1,500 per month during the third.

After the third year, the payment cycle restarts, said Iyah, who says she has been working in Taiwan for nearly eight years.

She said she used her one day off this month to join the rally.

“Some of my friends don’t have a day off,” she added.

The Taiwan Tongzhi (LGBTQ) Hotline Association has been supporting the rights of migrant workers for many years, association secretary-general Tsai Ying-chih (蔡瑩芝) said.

“As a minority, we very much understand this kind of situation of not being able to stand up, yet constantly being hurt,” she said.

“So as a LGBT group we also wanted to come and support” the migrant workers, she said.

About 200 police officers were sent to the rally, a media liaison officer with the Taipei City Police Department said.

Additional reporting by CNA

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