Taipei, Jan. 5 (CNA) Eight Chinese merchant seamen were caught in Taichung Friday for illegal entry after they left their ships docked at Taichung Port earlier that day and climbed a fence to land on Taiwan's soil, labor officials in the city said.
Seven of the eight people are crew members of the Cameroon- registered general cargo ship the Quan Fu 88, while the other is from another ship owned by the same company, according to the Labor Affairs Bureau of the Taichung City Government.
The eight climbed the border fence around the port area and then got on a public bus destined for City Hall, where they said they wanted to seek help after having not received wages from the Hong Kong ship owner since August, the bureau said.
Upon learning of the break-out, harbor police rushed to City Hall in time to apprehend the men, who were then sent to the immigration authorities, where they were detained for violating the Immigration Act.
According to the bureau, the Quan Fu 88 has been docked at the port since last May.
Scheduled to set sail in early September, the 1,923-ton cargo ship was ordered by the port authority to return to the port out of safety concerns after the harbor pilot found that the boat's engine failed to run properly due to aging.
The captain of the Quan Fu 88, Wang Quan (王全), one of the eight who jumped ship, told local media that they embarked from China on May 18 last year and arrived in Taichung Harbor two days later.
Complaining of having not received wages except for the two-month period from July and August, when they only got half of their wages, Wang said the crew had run out of food.
"The ship owner has not answered our demand to address the problem as soon as possible," he said.
On Thursday, the Quan Fu 88 crew hung posters from their ship, reading: "We want human rights; We want living rights" and "Give us our blood money; We want to go home."
The Taichung City Labor Affairs Bureau said it has contacted with the Hong Kong ship owner, who has promised to deal with the salary dispute within the next few days.