MENT Response to MECO Advisory
MECO, Please Serve－Don’t Suppress!
有關日前馬尼拉經濟文化辦事處（MECO）發出的一份Advisory（Advisory No. 1, Series of 2009），其中包含了稅法的錯誤說明及對於勞工基本權益的壓抑，台灣移工聯盟（MENT）對此表示嚴重的抗議。
Recently the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) issued an Advisory (Advisory No. 1, Series of 2009), which interprets the tax law in the wrong way and suppresses the basic rights of workers. Regarding this, we members of Migrant’s Empowerment Network in Taiwan (MENT) here express our serious protest. 菲律賓政府選擇與雇主/仲介站在同一陣線
Filipino Government Chooses to Take the Side of the Employers and Brokers
將近一年多的時間，在台移工被迫成為經濟危機下的犧牲者（2008年中起，在台移工/菲籍勞工便開始面對積欠薪資、無薪休假等等經濟問題）。雇主除了以 「No work, No pay」的方式違法減薪以外，更藉助仲介施壓勞工，以各種方式要求勞工放棄自己的權益以與雇主「共體時艱」。相關軟硬手段包括：勸說勞工無薪回國休假、強 迫勞工簽署「自動離職」等等。
For more than 1 year, migrant workers in Taiwan have been forced to become victims of the economic crisis (Starting from mid-2008, migrant / Filipino workers in Taiwan faced financial problems caused by overdue wages and unpaid leave.) In addition to illegal salary deduction through a “No work, no pay" policy, the employers, with the help of the brokers, also pressurize the workers in a variety of ways, requesting them to give up their rights for “forming a common front with employers during difficult times." The employers bring both force and reason to persuade workers to go home on unpaid leave and force them to sign for the “voluntary termination of contract."
In the whole process, MECO, who represents the government of the Republic of the Philippines, not only fails to help Filipino workers solve the problems but chooses to take the same stance with employers and broker agencies to suppress the workers’ rights:
—When the Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) announced that minimum wage may be compromised due to “unpaid leave," the migrant advocates stood up to protest. And where was MECO? Have MECO ever taken the Filipino workers’ wage cuts into account and expressed any dissatisfaction to the Taiwan government on behalf of the workers’ rights?
—When the Taiwan government announced that in case employers want to lay off workers, migrant workers should be put on the top of the list, has MECO ever voiced any protest to the Taiwan government regarding this racially discriminative policy made at the expense of the migrant/ Filipino workers?
—經過勞工團體的抗議後，勞委會在2008年12月22日以解釋令宣布「經勞雇雙方協商同意，固可暫時縮減工作時間及依比例減少工資，惟為保障勞工基本生 活，原約定按月計酬之全時勞工，每月給付之工資仍不得低於基本工資（NT17,280）」。現在，你不鼓勵勞工爭取自己的權益，反倒選擇與僱主/仲介站在 同一線。在很多個案的處理過程中，不搞清楚法令，卻企圖說服勞工放棄自己的基本權利。
— After migrant advocates’ protest, on December 22, 2008 CLA announced through an interpretation order: “Granted that with an negotiated agreement reached by both employee and employer parties, the work time may be temporarily reduced and the wage may be decreased in accordance with due proportion, still, in order to secure a basic livelihood for the workers, for those full-time workers originally contracted to be paid by monthly salary, this said monthly payment must not be lower than the minimum wage (17,280 NT)." And now, MECO not only fails to encourage workers to fight for their rights, on the contrary, it has fallen into the same line with the employers and brokers. In the course of handling many cases, MECO, not particularly at home with particular laws, has attempted to persuade workers to give up their fundamental rights.
Filipino Government Deprives Workers of Self-Protecting Rights
The economic crisis has created more and more difficulties for the migrant workers in Taiwan — long overdue wages, forced unpaid-leave, forced termination of contract, forced departure agreement, forced unemployment in Taiwan, futile employer-transfer, and a mountain of debt piled up on their backs due to broker’s fee.
Under increasing pressure on multiple fronts, without any assistance provided by the Filipino government, the migrant workers cannot but resort to helping out themselves. Petition, action-taking, demonstration, protesting, these are the basic assembly and parade rights, the last fundamental rights left in the hands of the working class in a democratic society. They are not only part of the fundamental human rights at the international level; they are also well protected by the Constitution of the Republic of China.
MECO neither helps migrant workers fight for their rights, nor helps them solve their problems; instead it develops an Advisory to such an extent that it connives in Taiwan government’s arbitrary legal interpretation, requests migrant workers in Taiwan not to take part in any mass activity over any labor dispute, and suppresses migrant workers’ basic human rights.
The OFWs help the Filipino government alleviate its stress over unemployment and gain huge amount of foreign exchange. The Filipino government dignifies the OFWs as contemporary heroes merely by words without providing them with anything substantial. Instead, this sending country government turns out to assist the government, employers and brokers of the receiving country, and trample her workers’ labor rights under her own foot. In this regard, we MENT members, who take the fundamental standpoint for the protection of human rights, here lodge a serious protest against MECO.