Migrant Workers Referendum Photo: Migrant Empowerment Network in Taiwan
Migrant Workers Referendum Photo: Migrant Empowerment Network in Taiwan

A push for better rights for migrant workers in Taiwan conducted by a labor non-governmental organization has won strong support – over 90% of nearly 2,500 respondents, including local people and foreign workers, during the first phase of the campaign.

The Migrant Empowerment Network in Taiwan (MENT) launched the three-month campaign on September 17 to gather public feedback on three key issues – whether caregivers in people’s homes should be protected by the Labor Standards Act, whether migrant workers should enjoy the right to change employers, and whether private employment agencies should be scrapped and such duties be undertaken by the government, The Commons Daily reported over the weekend.

Some 2,447 local people and foreign workers gave feedback on these issues. Just over 2,100 were migrant workers, while the remaining 338 were Taiwan citizens. All three issues secured an average of 2,400 votes in favor.

The number of Taiwanese voters who give feedback is expected to surge in the latter phases of gauging support as various non-government groups are yet to express their positions at this stage.

A Taiwanese woman surnamed Lui who employs a migrant caregiver told Real Daily that she supported home caregivers being protected by the Labor Standards Act, which could enable them to get a better salary and welfare protection.

She saw it as a win-win scenario that would make migrant workers happier when taking care of elderly people at home, and employers would not need to worry about having to find new helpers frequently.

Meanwhile, a Taiwanese man surnamed Chen said it was important to crack down on private employment agencies that charge exorbitant referral fees.

But he said pushing for the public to vote in a referendum on these issues was “too political”.

Migrant worker Sumiyati told Central News Agency that she favored a referendum on these issues, as domestic workers in Taiwan currently earn only NT$17,000 (US$559) a month – NT$4,000 less than the legal minimum wage of NT$21,009, and they are not protected under the Labor Standards Act. Their work hours could be unlimited and days off were not guaranteed.

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