Pinoy Workers in Taiwan Want Labor Rights

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Three months after a deportation row posed a threat to their jobs, Filipino workers in Taiwan joined rallies on Labor Day to air their woes against the Taiwanese government, a news report said Monday night.

In a report by Taiwan’s Central News Agency, Filipino and Filipino-Taiwanese workers lamented that Taipei’s labor laws do not protect them at all.

“Despite some improvements, those who work as home caretakers, many of whom are from the Philippines, are still being exploited and receive unfair treatment,” said Migrante-Taiwan chairperson David Chang in the news report.

Earlier this year, Taiwan created stricter application rules for migrant workers after the Philippines deported 14 of their nationals to mainland China.

The issue had since been resolved after the Philippine government replaced key immigration officials who were deemed responsible for mishandling the deportation.

Chang said migrant caretakers in Taiwan have to go through a broker system that collects most of their monthly earnings, demands long work hours without overtime pay, and offers no days off. He added that some caretakers have to work for 24 hours a day.

The chairperson said that both Taiwanese political parties – the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) and the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DDP) – have yet to address the issue. “[KMT] at least has been more willing to have dialogue with us,” he added.

Not covered by labor law

Home caretakers typically receive monthly salaries much lower than the standard set by the government because they are not covered by Taiwan’s Labor Standards Act, he said. The minimum wage in Taiwan is NT$17,880 (P26, 675) but most caretakers only receive NT$15,840 (P23,632).

In addition, Chang said that 99 percent of workers’ passports are seized by their employers or brokerage agencies so they would not be able to leave Taiwan.

Another Filipino group that voiced out their concerns was that of overseas Taiwanese who grew up in other countries and are not considered full-fledged citizens.

The group members possess Republic of China (ROC) passports but do not carry the identification cards that most Taiwanese are issued – the prerequisite to registering for national labor and health insurance.

Members of the Concern Alliance for Filipino Chinese (CAFC) showed up on Sunday with signs bearing slogans such as “stateless,” to display their dissatisfaction. The same report said the Taiwan government has denied this group the identification cards since 1991 when it issued tighter border controls.

Upon moving to Taiwan, they are required to stay for six years even before they are allowed to apply for permanent residency and given access to public insurance programs. They are considered “ROC nationals without citizenship.”

“I don’t think you can legitimately explain what a ‘national without citizenship’ is. It is ridiculous,” said Scalabrini International Migration Network Taiwan chief executive officer and CAFC Consultant Lorna Kung.

A January report by Control Yuan, the agency which “has the powers of impeachment, censure and audit” in Taipei indicated that of 60,000 ROC nationals without citizenship, more than 2,000 are Filipino-Taiwanese. Of the 2,000, 800 Filipino-Taiwanese are part of CAFC.

A national panel on human rights was recommended by the report to tackle the issue.

With Bea Cupin/PE/VS, GMA News

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GMANews.TV

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