Migrant domestic workers should be covered by minimum wage!
The sweatshop condition of migrant domestic worker:
Among the 210 thousand migrant domestic workers, there are more than 100 thousand coming to Taiwan for work without a day off! Their working hours are as long as 14-18 hours per day without regulation of the Labor Standards Act, and their wages are NTD15840 – far less than the minimum wage and never been raised for 17 years!!
More than 200 thousand migrant domestic workers (MDWs) from Southeast Asia have shouldered the home care for the Taiwan society for almost 22 years. However, their rights are extremely ignored. Their working hours and holidays are unregulated. In addition, their wages have never been raised for 17 years, still stagnating on NTD15840, the minimum wage rate in 1997.
The Article 1 of Labor Standards Act has stated from the out set: “The Act is enacted to provide minimum standards for working conditions.” But as for the MDWs whose wages and vacation rights much worse than the “minimum standards”, do they not need to have the most basic protection?
◎ Maid-abuse and exploitation – shame on Hong Kong, still indifferent in Taiwan?
A shocking maid-abuse case happened in Hong Kong recently: The 23-year-old Erwiana was tortured by her employer for almost 8 months, bruised, scalded and wounded all over. The horrible photo of Erwiana has attracted spotlight of international media and outraged MDWs and citizens in Hong Kong. The Amnesty International (AI) and TIME Magazine described the MDWs in Hong Kong as “Modern-day Slaves” because of the frequent abusing events and the high brokerage fee. The event bring shame on Hong Kong, but also created an opportunity for the Hong Kong society to reflect on the “MDWs been battered but not dare to resist” phenomenon, and the structural issues behind – including working conditions and related policies.
As for Taiwan, the government has signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), and the Act to Implement the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) was also enacted. But most MDWs – most of them are female – are still paid NTD15840 per month, merely 83% of the minimum wage! “Basic labor protection legislation” should cover MD, stated the Concluding Observations and Recommendations adopted by the International Group of Independent Experts on the Implementation of the International Human Rights Covenants. Furthermore, an Report on Human Rights published recently by the U.S., has listed “Foreign household caregivers and domestic workers did not enjoy a minimum wage” as the most concerned human rights issues in Taiwan. The government of Taiwan wanted to create a false impression of thinking human rights highly by signing the Covenants, but has been refuted by the “international” in turn!
Compared with the MDWs in Hong Kong, the MDWs in Taiwan have worse labor condition: although their wages seem about the same, the brokerage fees are almost twice, and the labor protection legislation and vacation rights are much inferior. Ridiculously, when the exploitation of MDWs brings shame on Hong Kong, the government of Taiwan treating MDWs even worse is totally indifferent to criticism from the international – just like “a dead mouse feels no cold!” Even the Gender Equality Commission, Executive Yuan, in charge of CEDAW promotion, is ignorant to the fact that MDWs are unregulated by the labor protection legislation, and keeps propagating “women’s rights are being bolstered” – how ignorance and shameless!
◎ Exploitative policies bring nothing but hurt!
The MDWs’ wage rates are far less than minimum wage, making them as cheap as modern-day slaves. The demand to long-term care in Taiwan is built on the basis of exploitative labor of more than 200 thousand MDWs! But the MDWs are not the only victims. While the government enacting the Long-term Services Act and Insurance Act, Taiwan families continue to rely on the cheap labor power of the MDWs. The result: other social welfare facilities will remain undeveloped as well, and the social welfare institutions will never be strengthened!
MENT has demanded: “Say NO to sweatshop long-term care, Say YES to a robust social welfare” in the migrant workers’ rally, December 15th, 2013. On March 9th, 2014, we will go to the upgraded Minister of Labor (MOL) ignorant to the fact that “cheap migrant workers are culprit for low wages.” We will let every migrant worker who sacrifice their rare vacation for protesting show their cheap wages with concrete figures, we will let them show their suffering life with action drama. And we will demand, “Migrant domestic workers should be covered by minimum wage.” The MOL should stop impeding the construction of the robust social welfare institutions by its cheap labor policies, or the Taiwanese will be blame as “modern-day slave owners!”
We demand that:
- Migrant domestic workers should be covered by minimum wage.
- Enacting labor protection legislation for the rights of migrant domestic workers.