CORONAVIRUS/Migrant worker movements restricted amid surge in COVID cases

06/05/2021 06:51 PM
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Deputy Labor Minister Wang An-pang announces the new measures at a Central Epidemic Command Center press briefing. Photo courtesy of the CECC
Deputy Labor Minister Wang An-pang announces the new measures at a Central Epidemic Command Center press briefing. Photo courtesy of the CECC

Taipei, June 5 (CNA) Taiwan has suspended transfers of migrant workers to different employers and took other steps Saturday to restrict their movements, after dozens of migrant workers at two electronics companies in Miaoli County came down with COVID-19.

The suspension of transfers, which took effect Saturday, will remain in place until the government lifts the COVID-19 Level 3 alert in its four-tier system, Deputy Labor Minister Wang An-pang (王安邦) said at a Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) press briefing.

The new policy, however, does not apply to migrant workers who have faced different forms of abuse, such as rape, violence, or trafficking, at their workplace and need to change employers, Wang said.

Employers will also not be allowed to transfer migrant workers from one factory to another during this period, Wang said.

The Ministry of Labor (MOL) has updated its guidelines aimed at reinforcing disease controls at factories and dormitories where migrant workers spend most of their time, following outbreaks at two electronics companies in factory-intensive Zhunan Township.

As of Saturday afternoon, King Yuan Electronics Corp. (KYEC) had reported 131 infections involving Taiwanese and foreign nationals, according to CECC data.

All of KYEC's 7,300 employees will have been tested for the virus by Saturday evening, according to Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the CECC.

At another company, Greatek Electronics Inc., nine infections involving migrant workers had been confirmed, CECC data showed.

The number of infections at Greatek could rise as testing of the company's more than 4,000 employees only began Saturday morning.

Government officials will be sent to the factories to help implement staggered work hours and separate workers into different workspaces, Chen said.

If the two companies cannot effectively carry out the measures to minimize contacts among workers, they will be asked to close their facilities, he said.

KYEC has suspended the operations of all its offices and factories in Taiwan until Sunday evening, but Greatek has not followed suit.

At the same time, Chen said, the CECC and the county government are in the process of relocating those who have come into contact with infected workers to quarantine hotels or facilities.

For those workers who remain at the plant sites, however, Chen said social distancing should be maintained at the dormitories that accommodate the workers of the two companies.

The CECC said in a press release issued after the briefing that the factories should reduce the number of residents in the dormitories and address the problem of shared bathrooms.

It suggested that the foreign workers' manpower brokers, which also provide accommodation, could help with this.

Wang said the MOL will team up with local authorities across the country to pay visits to companies employing at least 500 migrant workers and running dormitories with 100 or more migrant residents to make sure disease controls are in place.

(By Wu Hsin-yun, Chung Jung-feng and Teng Pei-ju)

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Update

President pledges help to Hsinchu, Miaoli amid new COVID clusters

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