More than 100 migrant workers and workers’ rights advocates yesterday rallied outside the Executive Yuan in Taipei calling on the government to enact a “household service act” to protect the labor conditions of migrant domestic workers.
The rally was organized by the Migrants Empowerment Network in Taiwan (MENT) — a group of grassroots organizations advocating for the rights of migrant workers in the nation, with members including the Taiwan International Workers’ Association, the Hsinchu Migrants and Immigrants Service Center, and Caritas Taiwan.
As of the end of March, there were 713,933 migrant workers in the nation, about 34 percent of whom were home care workers, the MENT said in a statement.
While migrant workers who work in factories are protected by the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法), migrant home care workers earn less than the minimum wage with unregulated working hours and are not protected by labor laws, the MENT said.
Some employers in the nation have long relied on the inexpensive labor provided by migrant workers for “24-hour care,” it said.
Taiwan has been an “aging society” for many years, it said, but added that “exploiting the cheap labor from other countries to make up for the shortage of local long-term care labor is, after all, not the solution to the problem.”
“We do not want to pray forever that we meet good employers. Nor do we want the brokers to always ask us to be patient,” Fani, an Indonesian care worker who attended the rally, said through an interpreter.
“Care workers are workers, too, and workers must have legal protection,” she said.
Yesterday’s demonstration was scheduled to come one day after International Workers’ Day and before the upcoming Mothers’ Day on Sunday, which are important holidays for migrant domestic workers, the organizers said.
Many migrant domestic workers in the nation are mothers who are separated from their children for long periods, Awakening Foundation secretary-general Chyn Yu-rung (覃玉蓉) said.
In the early 1990s, when Taiwan was debating whether to allow migrant domestic workers, supporters of the policy said that doing so would allow Taiwanese women to be relieved of the responsibilities of taking care of children, elderly family members and housework, and allow them to work outside and achieve financial independence, Chyn said.
Through public policy and human rights legislation, the government should allow hardworking mothers to have the same rights, regardless of their nationality, she said.
“I want a household service act,” the demonstrators chanted while holding signs with messages such as “Legal protection for household workers,” “Household work is work” and “Justice for all domestic migrant workers.”
Enactment of a proposed household service act should not be further delayed, the MENT statement said.
A household service act would be “the best Mothers’ Day and Workers’ Day gift” for all migrant domestic workers who are mothers, it added.
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