Labor group calls for law amendments to protect migrant workers

Taipei, Migrant worker rights advocates on Thursday called on Taiwan's government to amend current labor regulations to better protect the rights of migrant workers impacted by the misconduct of employers.

Members of the Taiwan International Workers' Association (TIWA), together with a dozen migrant workers, made the call after the latter's right to work in the country was undermined when the Ministry of Labor (MOL) fined two New Taipeibased bread and pastry operators for violations of overtime pay regulations.

Dozens of migrant workers at Xizhi Districtbased Mei Ti Foodstuff and Choc It companies went on strike in May after the companies refused to pay overtime.

The two companies later agreed to pay the unpaid wages to their employees after New Taipei's city labor affairs department stepped in.

As a punishment for their violations, MOL recently cut the migrant worker quotas for the companies.

According to Wu Chingju a member of the TIWA, so far 14 migrant workers have received official notices that their contracts have been terminated as a result of the punishments.

MOL thought such action would punish the employers but in fact it is the migrant workers who have been punished, for their employers' mistake, Wu noted.

In addition, such migrant worker quota restrictions mean nothing to employers as they only last two years, in accordance with current labor laws, Wu said.

Moreover, it is the employer that decides who to terminate so migrant workers have even less say, Wu added.

The protesters urged the ministry to amend related laws to ensure migrant workers have a voice before employers decide who is asked to leave in such circumstances.

The protesters also want the current rule that only allows migrant workers a 60day grace period between jobs before having to leave Taiwan to be made indefinite if they lose their jobs as a result of the government punishing employers who violate labor laws.

Asked to comment on the possible extension of the grace period, Chuang Kuoliang a labor official in charge of crossborder manpower management at the ministry, told CNA that current laws allow migrant worker to file for an additional 60day extension to stay in Taiwan should they have reasonable cause.

As to whether the government will consider extending migrant worker quota restrictions to longer than two years, Chuang said the ministry will talk with related parties before making a final decision.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel