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Migrant workers to march for better public sector bilingual services

12/04/2023 08:30 PM
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CNA photo Dec. 4, 2023
CNA photo Dec. 4, 2023

Taipei, Dec. 4 (CNA) Migrant workers will hold a march in Taipei on Dec. 10 to call on the government to improve its bilingual services for migrants and to get brokers out of the system, sponsors of the rally said Monday.

The march, held every two years, was announced by the Migrants Empowerment Network in Taiwan (MENT) at a press event staged in front of the Direct Hiring Service Center (DHSC) in Taipei.

According to Taiwan International Workers' Association coordinator Hsu Wei-tung (許惟棟), the rally on Sunday will be themed "Government, wake up! Brokers, get out!"

The marchers will call on the government to improve its services, Hsu said, and will also appeal for an end to Taiwan's exploitative labor broker system and replace it with a system solely based on direct hiring between governments.

The event's participants will start from the DHSC in Taipei and pass through Hankou Street, Civic Boulevard and Nanjing East Road before ending up at the Ministry of Labor (MOL) building on Songjiang Road, Hsu said.

CNA photo Dec. 4, 2023
CNA photo Dec. 4, 2023

MENT, an alliance of migrant rights groups, said the lack of bilingual services is common across many agencies that handle migrant worker issues, including the National Immigration Agency, the Centers for Disease Control and the Bureau of Labor Insurance.

Whether filling out a form or asking for help at the counters of those agencies, none of the staffers at those agencies are able to communicate in the native languages of migrant workers, MENT said in a statement.

In 2008, the MOL established the DHSC to provide employers with multiple employment methods for hiring foreign workers and to alleviate the burden of foreign workers coming to Taiwan.

MENT said Monday, however, that the number of hiring centers in the country has dwindled over the years, with only one left in Taipei.

Grace Huang (黃姿華), secretary-general of the Domestic Caretakers' Union Taoyuan, acknowledged that the DHSC is able to provide consultation services in multiple languages, but said it now serves little purpose other than collecting application documents.

Huang said its hiring support was limited because Taiwan still allows private brokers, which have monopolized the market, and the MOL has used the agency as a public relations tool to claim migrant workers have multiple options to get hired.

Chen Chang-pang (陳昌邦), director of the MOL's Cross-Border Workforce Affairs Center, said the government is planning to set up an online information platform to assist employers and migrant workers on working in Taiwan, without providing any details.

The Workforce Development Agency (WDA) issued a statement later Monday urging employers and migrant workers to make use of the government's DHSC, which it said can provide a wide range of services, such as with labor insurance applications and legal aid referrals.

The DHSC has provided services to some 186,000 employers and 187,000 migrant workers in Taiwan to date, the WDA said.

(By Chang Hsiung-feng and Ko Lin)

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