About 100 migrant workers and labor rights advocates yesterday protested in front of the Ministry of Labor, calling for legislation requiring employers to separate workers’ dorms from factory complexes to improve safety.
Between December last year and April, factory fires have killed eight migrant workers who were living in dorms connected to factory buildings, as well as six firefighters who entered burning buildings trying to save them.
Yesterday’s protest was the fifth organized by migrant workers and labor groups calling for the separation of dorms from factory floors.
“Following our first protest [on May 9], the ministry said in a statement that it would discuss the issue with other responsible ministries. When we protested again on May 23, it said it would convene a meeting with the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Economic Affairs to discuss it,” Hope Workers’ Center member Hsu Wei-tung (許維棟) said.
“[After a third protest] a month later, ministry Workforce Management Division senior specialist Su Yu-kuo (蘇裕國) said the department would continue to communicate with the interior and economic ministries, because the issue involves regulations set down by the two ministries,” Hsu said.
“When we protested again last month, Su said the labor ministry would handle the issue with the other two ministries after it had completed collecting opinions from the other ministries,” he said.
“Now it has been more than half a year since the fire. How much more time do the three ministries need to communicate and discuss the issue?” Hsu asked.
Dorms connected to factories not only force workers to live in close proximity to hazardous chemicals, but are also often difficult to escape, as they have limited exits, while corridors are blocked by goods and raw materials, workers said.
An Indonesian textile worker from Taoyuan, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that his dorm is inside a factory complex and has no fire exit.
“That makes us very worried about our safety if there was a fire,” he said.
“We are also unable to rest well in our dorm because the machines work 24 hours a day and keep sending out hot air, which is especially unbearable in the summer,” he added.
“Under current regulations, even when our dorm is unsafe, we cannot change our job. All we can do is go to church every Sunday and keep praying that none of us die in a fire,” said a Filipino worker, also speaking on condition of anonymity.
A survey conducted by labor groups among their members found that one in six migrant workers — or 18 percent — live in dorms connected to factories, Hsu said.
The labor ministry has been procrastinating, because migrant workers cannot vote, he said.
“The issue cannot be solved when all companies care about is profit and all the government cares about is getting elected,” Hsu said. “Human lives should always be valued above money.”
A study published by online booking platform Expedia revealed searches for travel to Taipei have ballooned 2,786 percent following the lifting of COVID-19 pandemic travel restrictions due to the city being a “designation dupe” for Seoul. The TikTok trend for duping — referring to substituting a designation for a more inexpensive alternative — helped propel interest in Taipei, it said in a consumer survey titled “Unpack ‘24,” which was conducted from September to October in 14 countries. Location dupes are “every bit as delightful as the tried-and-true places travelers love,” Expedia trend tracker Melanie Fish said of the year’s popular alternatives, which
SAFETY IN REGULATION: The proposal states that Chiayi should assess whether it is viable to establish such a district and draft rules to protect clients and sex workers The Chiayi City Council passed a motion yesterday to assess the viability of establishing a regulated red-light district. The council yesterday held its last session of the year, at which its fiscal 2024 budget was approved, along with 61 other proposals. The proposal to assess the viability of establishing a red-light district was put forward by independent Chiayi City Councilor Molly Yen (顏色不分藍綠支持性專區顏色田慎節). The proposal cited 2011 amendments to the Social Order Maintenance Act (社會秩序維護法), which stipulate that city and county governments can pass autonomous regulations on the sex trade to manage the industry and guarantee industry workers’ rights. A ban on the
A small-scale protest that called on the government to cancel its plan to welcome Indian migrant workers in a bid to tackle Taiwan’s labor shortage was held in Taipei yesterday. During the protest, comprised of a few dozen people staged in front of the Presidential Office on Ketagalan Boulevard, the protest’s chief initiator, a woman identified only as “Yuna” said they wanted the central government to reconsider allowing migrant workers from India to enter Taiwan. Most people in Taiwan had little knowledge about the potential plan to allow in Indian migrant workers until a report in the media last month, she
STABILITY AND CHANGE: Flagging in recent polls, Ko this week pledged to maintain President Tsai’s foreign policy, with an emphasis on improving China relations Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) Chairman and presidential candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) yesterday reiterated that he is “deep-green at heart” in response to accusations that he is pivoting his campaign to align closer with the ideology of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in the face of flagging polls. Ko made the remark at an agricultural policy conference in Taipei, repeating his comments from an interview with CTS News a day earlier. Ko told the CTS host that he would continue to pursue President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) national defense and foreign policy in general, but with an emphasis on establishing a rapport with