Equal job protection for migrant + local workers!
Migrants Empowerment Network in Taiwan（MENT）
As the financial crisis spreads across the globe, the government extends a helping hand to the capitalists; aid projects and projects to expand employment are popping up everywhere. In February of 2009, the unemployment rate rose to 5.75%, with 624,000 people out of work. Cases of lowered wages, employees being laid off, and people being asked to take unpaid leave keep increasing. The official unemployment rate is just the tip of the iceberg. In October of 2007, the Council for Labor Affairs allowed the “3D” industries (work that is dirty, difficult and dangerous) to import workers from other countries. After this, as more and more migrant workers lost their jobs, they were no longer able to transfer to new positions. They have nowhere to turn, and they are forced to go home burdened by debt.
Twenty years ago, to meet the capitalists’ demand for cheap labor, the government legalized the importation of cheap foreign workers. These workers have been kept in slavery-like conditions by government policies, including limited legal residence in Taiwan (only 3 years, two times), the private broker system, no freedom to change employers, and no right to organize unions. Now that the economy is depressed, the CLA is sacrificing migrant workers again, in the name of lowering the unemployment rate. Cloaking racism in the guise of protecting local workers’ jobs, they announce they will lay off 30,000 foreign workers and ask employers to lay off foreign workers first. The government is using migrant workers as scapegoats, to pacify the people and deflect criticism!
Ironically, while many workers are suffering on forced, unpaid “vacations,” 160,000 migrant home care workers, who are not covered under the Labor Standards Law, may be forced to work for the entire year without a single day off. Migrant workers, who have to pay huge brokers’ fees to come to Taiwan, are trapped between working for long periods with no rest or losing their job and being forced to go home with huge debts. Racist policies make the value of migrants’ labor go down and the local workers’ unemployment rate go up. The more migrant workers are oppressed, the less secure are the rights of local workers.
On the evening before International Labor Day (May 1), Taiwanese local workers and migrant workers from all around Taiwan will stand up together, without making any distinctions based on race or nationality. We demand that all workers’ rights get equal protection, and we will resist the attempts of the capitalists and the government to divide us and oppress us!
We affirm the contributions that migrant workers make to Taiwanese society, and we demand that migrant workers’ basic rights be guaranteed:
- Eliminate the employment time limit.
- Freedom to transfer between employers.
- Migrant workers’ right to form unions.
- Abolish the broker system; implement country-to-country direct hiring.
- Domestic workers should be protected by labor laws.
Migrants Empowerment Network in Taiwan, MENT：
Scalabrini International Migration Network—Taiwan
Taiwan International Workers’ Association, TIWA
Vietnamese Migrant Workers and Brides Office, VMWBO
Hope Worker Center, HWC
HMISC – Hsinchu Catholic Diocese
UGNAYAN – Migrant and Immigrant Mission
Center for Migrants’ Concerns, Central Taiwan
Stella Maris International Service Center
The Presbyterian Church in Taiwan Labour Concern Cente
Media contact person: Taiwan International Workers’ Association (TIWA) Hsiu-lien Chen 0939-503-121