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Taiwan to do more to protect migrant workers' rights: MOFA

2018/04/21 22:02:35

CNA file photo

Taipei, April 21 (CNA) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) expressed Saturday Taiwan's commitment to upholding human rights and said that relevant agencies will continue to pass and strengthen laws to ensure that workers' rights, including those of migrant workers, are protected.

MOFA made the statement in response to the U.S. Department of State's 2017 Human Rights Reports released a day earlier, in which the one for Taiwan pointed out concerns about the working conditions of migrant workers in Taiwan.

According to the report, "the approximately 600,000 foreign workers, primarily from Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Thailand, were vulnerable to exploitation."

In response, MOFA spokesman Andrew Lee (李憲章) told CNA that relevant government agencies will work to enact laws, strengthen the execution of laws and use awareness campaigns to protect the rights of people living in the country.

Furthermore, MOFA hopes to elevate its cooperation with the U.S. on issues of global human rights, given the two countries' shared values of democracy and human rights, Lee continued.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Labor (MOL) also responded that same day, saying that the same labor laws govern both domestic and foreign workers in Taiwan, so there should be no discrepancy in the way the two groups are treated.

The MOL has set up a comprehensive system for the protection of foreign workers' rights, including a "1955" toll-free multilingual hotline, with services in Chinese, English, Thai, Indonesian and Vietnamese, for workers to call in complaints about labor law violations.

As it strives to make more improvements, the MOL is also looking at a leave plan that will allow workers, such as caregivers who work in people's homes, to receive more time off, which will benefit both them and the people they take care of.

This is not the first time that Taiwan's issues with migrant workers' rights has been brought up by someone outside the country.

Last month, the Environmental Justice Foundation, a United Kingdom-based nonprofit organization, called on Taiwan to step up its fight against human trafficking at sea and provide greater protection to migrant fishermen employed on Taiwanese vessels.

It posted a video online titled "Exploitation and Lawlessness: The Dark Side of Taiwan's Fishing Fleet," in which it exposed the exploitation suffered by migrant workers on Taiwan-owned fishing boats.

(By Elaine Hou and Kuan-lin Liu)
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