About 200 migrant workers and workers’ rights advocates yesterday rallied in front of the Legislative Yuan in Taipei to push for legislation to guarantee legal protection for domestic workers.
At the heart of the protesters’ demands is a proposed “household service act” that the Migrants Empowerment Network in Taiwan (MENT) — a coalition of grassroots migrants’ rights organizations that organized the protest — has been pushing for since 2003.
Protesters held signs with messages reading “We want legal protection,” “We are not slaves and not products,” and “Stop human trafficking. Stop exploitation.”
Representatives of several groups, including MENT members such as the Taipei-based Taiwan International Workers’ Association, the Taoyuan-based Hope Workers’ Center and the Hsinchu Migrants and Immigrants Service Center, as well as supporters such as the Awakening Foundation, took part in the protest.
It has been nearly 30 years since Taiwan first allowed foreign domestic workers following the enactment of the Employment Service Act (就業服務法) in 1992, MENT said, adding that as of October this year, there were 701,240 migrant workers in Taiwan, about 33 percent of whom are domestic workers who are not protected by labor laws.
In October 2004, MENT, which was then named the Promoting Alliance of Household Service Act, proposed a draft “household service act” to protect the rights of domestic workers.
However, the Ministry of Labor never proposed a corresponding version, said the group, which was renamed in 2007.
Ahead of International Migrants Day on Friday, MENT said it would submit an updated version of its “household service act” proposal to the Legislative Yuan, as it urged the Executive Yuan to release its own version of the bill as soon as possible.
However, the ministry said that due to differences in the jobs performed by domestic workers employed by individuals and workers employed by businesses, the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法) cannot apply to the former.
There would also be difficulties in pushing for a dedicated law, as it would be hard to distinguish between domestic workers’ working hours and rest periods, given they primarily work in homes, and it would be hard for different groups to reach a consensus on proposed regulations, the ministry said.
The Employment Service Act states that migrant workers should sign a contract with their employer, verified by their home country, before they arrive in Taiwan, the ministry said.
The contract should include items such as employers providing workers with enough rest time, it said, adding that Taiwan also negotiates with countries that are sources of migrant domestic workers on matters such as their minimum wage.
The ministry values the labor rights of migrant domestic workers, but it must also take into consideration the burden on the family members of the nation’s disadvantaged groups who employ them, it said.
It would promote measures to protect the rights of migrant domestic workers, it added.
The coast guard on Friday took a Chinese fishing boat and the 17 people on board into custody, after it rammed into a patrol boat while attempting to flee. A 100-tonne coast guard vessel at about 8am discovered a Chinese fishing boat illegally operating in waters about 11 nautical miles (20.4km) northwest of Hsinchu, the Hsinchu offshore flotilla of the Coast Guard Administration said. The crew refused to allow law enforcement to board the ship and attempted to flee, it added. The coast guard vessel and another ship chased the fishing boat for about a half hour, during which time the Chinese boat
Vice President William Lai (賴清德) yesterday said that Beijing was trying to “annex” Taiwan, while China said its recent series of drills near Taiwan are aimed at combating the “arrogance” of separatist forces. The Ministry of National Defense earlier this month said that it had observed dozens of Chinese fighters, drones, bombers and other aircraft, as well as warships and the Chinese aircraft carrier Shandong, operating nearby. The increased frequency of China’s military activities has raised the risk of events “getting out of hand” and sparking an accidental clash, Minister of National Defense Chiu Kuo-cheng (邱國正) said last week. Asked about the spurt
China’s Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hong Kong has asked foreign consulates in Hong Kong to submit details of their local staff, which is more proof that the “one country, two systems” model no longer exists, a Taiwanese academic said. The office sent letters dated Monday last week to consulates in the territory, giving them one month to submit the information it requires. The move followed Beijing’s attempt to obtain floor plans for all properties used by foreign missions in Hong Kong last year, which raised concerns among diplomats that the information could be used for
‘ABNORMITY’: News of the military exercises on the coast of the Chinese province facing Taiwan were made public by the Ministry of National Defense on Thursday Taiwan’s military yesterday said it has detected the Chinese military initiating a round of exercises at a bay area in coastal Fujian Province, which faces Taiwan, since early yesterday morning and it has been closely monitoring the drills. The exercises being conducted at Fujian’s Dacheng Bay featured an undisclosed number of People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) warplanes, warships and ground troops, the Ministry of National Defense said in a press statement. The ministry did not disclose what kind of military exercises are being conducted there and for how long they would be happening, but it did say that it has been closely watching