Taiwan striving to improve workers’ rights: Presidential Office

Taipei--Taiwan's Presidential Office said Sunday that the government is committed to the protection of workers' rights and interests and will continue its efforts to improve labor conditions in the country.

In a statement issued the day after the release of the U.S. State Department's 2016 Human Rights report, the Presidential Office noted that the exploitation of foreign workers was one of the major issues listed against Taiwan in the report.

However, President Tsai Ing-wen's (???) administration is firmly committed to the protection of workers' rights and interests and has already made several regulatory changes in that regard, Presidential Office spokesman Sidney Lin (???) said in the statement.

For example, Tsai's administration has removed a regulation that required the departure for at least one day of foreign migrant workers who have been in Taiwan for three years and wish to remain, Lin said.

The government has also introduced a 40-hour work week that cut down on the maximum number of hours employees are allowed to work, he said.

Lin said the government is continuing its efforts to improve conditions for workers in the country and one of its goals is to carry out reforms in the industrial sector, including the area of employees' pay.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also issued a statement, saying that safeguarding human rights is a major policy of the country's government.

In recent years, the government has enacted several laws to adopt international conventions on human rights and has taken steps to enforce those laws, the ministry said.

The government is now working to carry out reforms in the national pension system, judiciary system and housing policies and is pushing for transitional justice, all of which are linked to human rights, the foreign ministry said.

The ministry said it will convey to the U.S. State Department the responses of the relevant Taiwan authorities to the problems listed in the most recent Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.

Commonly known as the Human Rights report, it said that the problems reported in Taiwan in 2016 were "exploitation of foreign workers, including foreign crewmembers on long-haul fishing vessels and household caregivers; domestic violence; and official corruption."

"Other human rights concerns during the year included some media self-censorship with regard to China; vote buying; violations of legal working hours; lack of barrier-free spaces and accessible transportation systems for persons with disabilities, particularly outside Taipei; gender-biased sex selection; and a rise in child abuse," the report said.

The annual report covers internationally recognized individual, civil, political, and worker rights, as set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international agreements, according to the U.S. State Department.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel