Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers yesterday urged the Ministry of Labor to crack down on labor brokers that charge illegal fees for the transfer of migrant workers to other employers, saying that this would help Taiwan become a “slave-free nation.”
DPP Legislator Michelle Lin (林楚茵) told a news conference in Taipei that she had received multiple complaints about brokers charging thousands to tens of thousands of New Taiwan dollars to process the transfer of migrant workers.
Lin cited as examples a case in which an agent, during a recorded conversation, asked an Indonesian worker to pay NT$25,000 for the processing of their transfer request and another case in which an agent asked a Vietnamese worker to pay NT$10,000 for employment papers.
Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times
Most workers paid the additional fees, she said.
With COVID-19-related restrictions since May barring prospective workers from entering Taiwan, such practices might have gotten worse, Lin said.
The ministry must crack down on the practices, which some international organizations call slave labor or slave trade, she said.
There are no statistics about their prevalence in Taiwan, which prevents effective prosecution, Lin added.
DPP Legislator Hung Sun-han (洪申翰) said that some agents are emboldened to extort migrant workers whose access to documents is impeded.
The agents usually hide the practice from potential employers, Hung added.
Migrant workers should be given access to the needed forms — including employment licenses and documents to prove that they are not working anymore for their previous employers, he said.
The forms should be available for download, or workers should be able to apply for them online, Hung added.
The ministry should step up measures to investigate brokers engaged in illegal practices and shut them down, he said.
DPP Legislator Lai Pin-yu (賴品妤) said that migrant worker transfer procedures should be simplified and a multilingual platform should be set up to inform them of their rights.
The platform should include regulations and download links to documents that migrant workers frequently need, Lai said.
The platform should also allow companies to register their newly hired workers with local governments, she said.
Agents can only charge NT$1,500 to NT$1,800 in service fees per worker per month, she said, citing the Employment Service Act (就業服務法) and the Standards for Fee-charging Items and Amounts of the Private Employment Services Institution (私立就業服務機構收費項目及金額標準).
Brokers breaching these regulations would have their licenses revoked as the most severe penalty, Lin said.
Workforce Development Agency Deputy Director-General Lin Hong-de (林宏德) said that workers who have experienced extortion should call the 1955 hotline to file a complaint.
The ministry is planning to implement next year a system that would make it easier for workers to access the required documents, Lin said.
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