Taiwan poised to raise minimum wage for migrant caregivers

07/07/2022 09:32 PM
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CNA file photo for illustrative purposes only
CNA file photo for illustrative purposes only

Taipei, July 7 (CNA) Taiwan's Ministry of Labor (MOL) said Thursday that it will soon introduce a minimum wage increase for private home-based migrant caretakers and domestic helpers, based on the recommendations of its employment security fund management committee.

At a meeting earlier in the day, the committee agreed to recommend an increase from the current minimum monthly wage of NT$17,000 (US$570.86) to at least NT$20,000 for that category of migrant workers, the MOL said in a statement.

In its recommendation, the committee said Taiwan's international image was being tainted by low salaries and that the government could provide subsidies to economically disadvantaged employers to help them pay for private home-based migrant caretakers and domestic helpers, the MOL said.

The minimum pay hike for that category of migrant workers is also being proposed in light of Taiwan's increase of its monthly minimum wage earlier this year to NT$25,250.

Unlike migrant workers employed in the industrial sector, private home-based migrant caretakers and domestic helpers are not covered by Taiwan's Labor Standards Act, which has left their minimum pay stuck at NT$17,000 (US$570.86) for the last seven years, the ministry said.

As a result, some caregivers and domestic helpers have been seeking job transfers to earn more money, which has also adversely affected their Taiwanese employers, the ministry said.

Over the years, labor officials from the home countries of migrant caretakers and domestic helpers have been calling for wage increases, as have migrant rights groups and Taiwan's top government watchdog, the Control Yuan, the MOL noted.

It also said that because of COVID-19 prevention protocols, the number of migrant workers allowed into Taiwan has been reduced.

In light of all those factors, "it is necessary to reasonably adjust the wages of migrant caregivers," the ministry said, hours after the Indonesian Migrant Workers Protection Board (BP2MI) issued a statement saying that Taiwan had agreed to increase the salaries of that category of Indonesian migrant workers, from NT$17,000 to NT$20,000.

"Taiwan's decision is certainly a historical one for our country," BP2MI Head Benny Rhamdani said in a press conference, according to Indonesian news agency Antara.

BP2MI Head Benny Rhamdani. CNA photo July 7, 2022
BP2MI Head Benny Rhamdani. CNA photo July 7, 2022

The wage increase agreement was achieved through Indonesia's successful diplomacy, after several rounds of negotiations between Taiwan officials, the Indonesian Ministry of Manpower, and the BP2MI, Antara cited him as saying.

"This not a victory, however, for the BP2MI or Benny Rhamdani," he later said in a statement. "This is a victory for red and white (the colors of the Indonesian flag), Indonesia, and Indonesian migrant workers."

According to the BP2MI, there are 15,419 migrant workers on standby in Indonesia, waiting to depart for Taiwan for potential caretaker and domestic helper jobs when the COVID-19 protocols allow.

BP2MI Head Benny Rhamdani (fourth left) CNA photo July 7, 2022
BP2MI Head Benny Rhamdani (fourth left) CNA photo July 7, 2022

In late June, Taiwanese and Indonesian labor officials held a round of meetings, during which the Indonesian side advocated strongly for a wage hike for migrant caregivers and domestic helpers in Taiwan.

Other countries, including the Philippines, have also been in discussions with Taiwan about the disparity in the minimum wages of domestic workers compared to factory workers and have suggested raising the salaries of private home-based migrant caretakers and domestic helpers.

In Taiwan, there are some 202,616 migrant workers employed as private-home-based caretakers, and 1,441 as domestic helpers, according to MOL statistics as of the end of May.

(By William Yen and Shih Hsiu-chuan)

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