Lawmakers and children’s rights advocates yesterday called for greater protection of young workers following the alleged abuse of a 17-year-old by his employer.
The boy and his coworker, surnamed Lin (林), 21, were allegedly beaten, subjected to electric shocks and shot with an airgun by their employer — a man surnamed Chan (詹) — sustaining multiple injuries, the Central News Agency (CNA) reported on Wednesday last week.
Chan allegedly held the boy, who was not named, and Lin in captivity for three months and took their mobile phones, CNA said.
Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times
Lin escaped on April 10, after which the other boy was also rescued, the Chinese-language Liberty Times (sister newspaper of the Taipei Times) has reported.
Chan, 24, and two other suspects have been taken into custody, the newspaper said.
The 17-year-old had found the job through a human resources agency after leaving school, the Taiwan Alliance for Advancement of Youth Rights and Welfare said.
In 2018, another worker younger than 16 who had dropped out of school was allegedly beaten to death by coworkers in Taoyuan, the alliance said.
At a news conference in Taipei, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Wu Yu-chin (吳玉琴) raised doubts over the legality of the agent who connected the 17-year-old with the employer, and questioned why job-seeking channels, such as the government’s Employment Services Stations, had failed to serve their function.
The two cases were likely not isolated incidents, New Power Party Legislator Claire Wang (王婉諭) said.
Youth in the workplace could face improper treatment ranging from pay deductions and requests to work overtime, to bullying or physical harm, she said.
More than 3,000 people have dropped out of junior high school, Wang said, citing Ministry of Education statistics, adding that they might enter the workforce due to financial reasons or a lack of interest in school.
As the government offers job training and job search services to adults, it should also be more proactive about helping students who drop out of school look for jobs, she said, adding that this way they would be less likely to encounter bad employers.
People aged 17 to 18 who have dropped out of school or are in night school are unlikely to turn to government agencies, such as the Employment Services Stations, for help, Taiwan People’s Party Legislator Lai Hsiang-ling (賴香伶) said.
More often than not, they search for jobs through peers, she said, adding that within this jobseeking pattern, non-governmental organizations could intervene and offer them protection.
Liu Yueh-se (劉約瑟), a representative from the Ministry of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, told the news conference that the labor, education and health ministries have drafted a strategy to protect minors in the workplace, which would include stepping up labor inspections, hosting educational training, improving awareness and bolstering inter-agency coordination.
The labor ministry is to hold a meeting on May 26 to discuss the formation of an inter-agency committee on youth workplace safety, Liu said, adding that experts on youth rights, and health and safety would be invited.
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