Can you imagine how it feels if you do not have any day off all year round?
In Taiwan, it is all too often that migrant domestic workers, who are isolated from relatives, friends, and information, work continually for whole three years without taking one single day off.
Human beings are not machines; they can not work endlessly. While Taiwanese society takes weekend off for granted, 17,000 foreign domestics are still excluded from legal protection of working hours. Although they take the major responsibility for caring Taiwanese elderly, invalid, and toddlers, they are deprived of any holidays. This inhuman circumstance has lasted for 16 years since foreign caretakers were first introduced in 1992.
Before, Taiwanese government offered “break service”- a free, provisional in-house caring service – for low income households in an attempt to relieve their caring mothers or wives. However, after migrant domestics were introduced, the Ministry of Interior suspended this service for the households which employed migrant workers. This policy not only violates the care receivers’ civil rights but also exercises racial and class discrimination – only local women need rest, but their foreign counterparts do not? If caretakers are not able to take rest, it is very likely that the care receivers will not have satisfying quality of caring. Moreover, the canceling of break service also leads to mass unemployment of local caretakers. This wrongful policy, in a word, oppresses local caretakers, foreign domestics, and the invalid.
The Migrant Empowerment Network Taiwan (MENT) , founded in 2003 to connect grassroots migrant workers’ organizations including TIWA, has strongly demanded legal protection for domestic workers either by amending Labor Standards Law or passing Household Service Act. MENT argues that domestic labor should be publicized and household workplace should be regulated by law. By advocating the Household Service Act and demanding the break service be resumed, we pursue a “win-win-win” prospectus for all local caretakers, migrant domestics, and care receiving families.