Migrant workers to march for better labor rights on Sunday

Taipei-Hundreds of migrant workers will take to the streets in Taipei on Sunday to call for better labor rights and the right to participate in the formation of policies that affect migrant workers, the organizer said Friday.

"The theme of this rally is 'Recognizing Non-Citizens.' We hope that Taiwanese society will recognize the lack of political rights of these non-citizens, who, like local citizens, live, consume and pay taxes in Taiwan," Hsu Wei-tung (???), a member of the Migrants Empowerment Network in Taiwan (MENT), told CNA.

Hsu said there are currently over 670,000 migrant workers in Taiwan, and some of them have worked as many as 14 years in the country.

"Without political rights, these workers do not have a say in policies that deeply affect them, such as the right to change employers freely and be protected by the Labor Standards Act, and their fate can only be decided by other people," Hsu said.

In Taiwan, the right to vote is limited to citizens of the country, but many countries have granted voting rights to resident non-citizens, which is something that Taiwan should consider in the future, he said.

On Sunday, demonstrators will set off from the Ministry of Labor at 1:30 p.m. and march to the Presidential Office on Ketagalan Boulevard. The organizer will then announce the results of a mock referendum that was held across Taiwan in September last year on three key issues concerning migrant workers.

The three issues are: whether migrant domestic caregivers should be protected under the Labor Standards Act; whether migrant workers should be able to change employers freely; and whether the government should get rid of the private employment brokerage system.

Over 10,000 votes were cast in the mock referendum held from Sept. 17 to Dec. 10 at 15 designated voting locations across Taiwan, according to MENT, with the vast majority of voters having expressed support for the measures according to partial vote tallies released previously.

Currently, foreign domestic caregivers are not covered under the Labor Standards Act, and therefore not entitled to the statutory minimum wage and mandatory days off as stipulated in the Act.

Migrant workers have long demanded higher wages, mandatory days off, the freedom to change employers freely and exemption from brokerage fees.

Hsu said migrant workers have contributed significantly to Taiwan's economy and industries. They take care of elderly Taiwanese people, build high speed railway and metro lines, and provide manpower to the country's fishing industries, he said.

The goal of the rally is to create a dialogue among Taiwanese so that they can think of ways to include the voices of migrant workers in the country's policymaking process, Hsu said.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel