Thursday, 27 January 2011

Domestic workers excluded from the wage hike in Taiwan

Press Release
24 January 2011
Exclusion of HSWs in new minimum wage in Taiwan is discriminatory and unjust

“While the new minimum wage is a welcome news, the exclusion of almost half of foreign workers in Taiwan who are caregivers or work in households makes it discriminatory and unjust.”

This was declared today by Joram Calimutan, program coordinator, of the Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM), a regional migrant centre based in Hong Kong as Taiwan’s Council of Labor Affairs earlier announced a new minimum wage for industrial-, agricultural-, and institution-based workers for this year.

The recent increase in minimum wage adjusted the monthly minimum salary to NT$17,880.00 from NT$17,280 or an hourly minimum rate of NT$98 from NT$95.

“The exclusion of household service workers (HSWs) who are mostly women from the Philippines and Indonesia reflects that the government of Taiwan merely views them as cheap labor. It is no different from other governments, like in Hong Kong, that do not recognize domestic workers as decent work. The Taiwan government does not even include the HSWs and house-based caregivers/ caretakers to its Labor Standards Law,” he remarked.

Calimutan added that the new policy puts HSWs in a more lamentable situation as they already work for over 12 hours a day, on-call for 24 hours, have irregular holidays and rest days, and already suffer physical, sexual, moral and verbal abuse from their employers.

“On top of these, they still suffer from the high fees that brokers in Taiwan charge. These unscrupulous brokers extort money from foreign workers who are forced to give in to their demands just so they can get or keep their jobs. The exclusion only adds up to the vulnerability of HSWs,” he remarked.

Calimutan also mentioned that, “the recent wage announcement exposes the non-compliance of Taiwan government to International Labor Organizations standards and disrespects of human rights and dignity of workers. The ILO already made a ruling against the exclusion of foreign domestic workers to labor ordinance of its member countries”.

On ILO’s declaration on fundamental principles and rights at work, Item 2.c. states the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.

Today based on Philippine Overseas Employment Administration there are about 25,000 Filipino HSWs in Taiwan. “Countries like the Philippines should lodge protests with concerned bodies and assert the right of their nationals against discrimination. They should show their will to protect their workers and not be merely content with the income that their respective governments generate from their nationals in Taiwan,” he added.

APMM said that they will coordinate with various organizations in Taiwan in order to come up with plans on how the exclusion can be challenged both in Taiwan and in the international arena.

“Foreign workers in Taiwan are always some of the first to get hit by anti-labor policies of the government. Now, even policies that may prove beneficial to them are denied from half of the total foreign workers in Taiwan. This has got to stop,” Calimutan concluded.

Reference:      Joram Calimutan
                 Program Coordinator
                 Tel. (852) 2723-7536 / 5360-5497

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