At least 40 Filipino graduate students at Yu Da University of Science and Technology (YDU) have allegedly been forced to work at a tile factory in Miaoli since April last year, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chang Liao Wan-chien (張廖萬堅) said yesterday.
The university is the third school to be accused of collaborating with personnel agencies to force international students into manual labor, following University of Kang Ning and Hsing Wu University, he told a news conference at the Legislative Yuan, adding that such incidents have “seriously damaged Taiwan’s image.”
YDU in April last year recruited 52 students from the Philippines through the study abroad agency Faith (中華飛世文化教育發展協會), which told students that they could work and study in Taiwan through the school’s graduate program, he said.
Photo: George Tsorng, Taipei Times
Upon arriving in Taiwan, the students were handed over to the personnel agency Harvest (華維思), which told them to sign a contract prescribing manual labor and payments of NT$2,000 a month to Harvest for consultations and work assignments, he said.
According to the contract, if students showed a “bad attitude,” their employer could terminate the contract and make them pay a penalty of US$1,000.
It would also disqualify them for a tuition installment plan and require them to immediately pay their tuition in full.
Afterward, students were assigned work at a tile factory 4.7km from campus, he said, adding that they worked 40 hours a week, although the legal limit for international students is 20 hours a week.
The students, who were paid NT$140 per hour, worked four to five days a week, from 8am to 8pm on days without classes and from 4pm to midnight on days with classes, he added.
“When some of the students tried to discuss their work situation with the school, they were told to sign a form by which they voluntarily dropped out,” he said.
After eight of the first 24 students quit the program, Harvest added a clause to the contract requiring students recruited after September to pay a penalty of NT$500,000 if they revealed any information about the contract or their work, he said.
One of the students, Raymark, 26, said he was surprised to find that the work was taxing manual labor, instead of work related to their field of study.
“We became slaves of our dreams,” he said.
“I gave my best to my work, but my body is neither a log nor a robot,” he said, adding that worse than the physical pain was the abuse from their line manager, who often shouted at them.
“All I request now is to get back all the illegal fees collected from me and my colleagues, as that was hard-earned money,” he said.
Deputy Minister of Education Lio Mon-Chi (劉孟奇) apologized to the students at the news conference and vowed to protect their rights.
The way the students have been treated is “totally unacceptable,” he said.
The ministry would severely punish schools that deceive students and force them to do illegal work, he said, adding that it would make their illicit actions public.
To better protect international students, the ministry has set up a hotline for reporting problems encountered at schools, he said, adding that the hotline — 0800-789-007 — is available in Chinese, English, Vietnamese and Indonesian.
The ministry would make sure the school assists students in terminating the unfair contracts and reimbursing illegally collected agency fees, Department of Technological and Vocational Education Director Yang Yu-hui (楊玉惠) said.
YDU has been banned from recruiting international students and there would be further punishment if the school was found to have participated in arranging the illegal work, she said.
After being informed about the manual labor, YDU promptly began investigating the matter and helped the students terminate their contracts, the school said in a statement.
It denied ever telling students to drop out and said that it would review its policies for international students.
EMBRACE CHANGE: Jensen Huang told NTU graduates that instead of worrying about AI itself, they should worry that people with expertise in AI would be taking their jobs Artificial intelligence (AI) is redefining the computer industry, and Taiwanese companies could play a major role in replacing the world’s traditional computers as they are the foundation of the industry, Nvidia Corp cofounder and CEO Jensen Huang (黃仁勳) said in Taipei yesterday. Huang made the remarks while giving the keynote speech at National Taiwan University’s (NTU) commencement ceremony. AI has created immense opportunities, and versatile companies can be expected to take advantage and boost their position, while less flexible firms would perish, he said. “In every way, this is a rebirth of the computer industry and a golden opportunity for the companies of
‘ARCHAIC’: An interpretation of a law that considered Chinese as Taiwanese nationals was scrapped after the death of a Chinese in Kaohsiung led to state reparations An administrative mandate to consider Chinese as Taiwanese citizens was outdated, Premier Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) said yesterday, a day after the Executive Yuan ordered that agencies disregard the 30-year-old interpretation. Chen made the remarks at an event held by the Environmental Protection Administration in Taipei following changes to the administrative mandate concerning the Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (臺灣地區與大陸地區人民關係條例). The previous interpretation of the law was archaic and contrary to the workings of laws and regulations, he said, adding that the order was made to avoid unnecessary problems created by the mandate. The Mainland
NOT BUYING IT: One of the goals of Beijing’s Cross-Strait Media People Summit was to draw mainstream media executives to discuss the ‘one country, two systems’ formula Taiwanese news media insist on press freedom and professionalism, and would never become a tool of China’s “united front” campaign, Premier Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) said yesterday, responding to media queries about the lack of Taiwanese media executives at the Cross-Strait Media People Summit in Beijing. Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) Chairman Wang Huning (王滬寧) was reportedly furious that no Taiwanese media representatives attended a scheduled meeting with him on Thursday last week. “Beijing should take Taiwan’s determination to pursue freedom and democracy seriously. We also hope that it will not use vicious means to interfere with Taiwan’s development into a
IMMIGRATION REFORM: The legislative amendments aim to protect the rights of families to reunify, and to attract skilled professionals to stay and work in Taiwan Foreigners who are highly skilled professionals, top-prize winners in professional disciplines, investment immigration applicants or have made special contributions to Taiwan can soon apply for permanent residency on behalf of their spouses and minor or disabled children after the legislature approved amendments to the Immigration Act (入出國及移民法). The amendments, which were proposed by the Ministry of the Interior and approved by the Executive Yuan on Jan. 12, aim to attract foreign talent to Taiwan and encourage them to stay. They would take effect once they are signed by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文). The amendments involved changing 63 articles, making it the biggest