The new headquarters of the Ministry of Labor on No 77 Guanqian Road, Taipei City. Photo: Google Maps
The new headquarters of the Ministry of Labor on No 77 Guanqian Road, Taipei City. Photo: Google Maps

More than 40 foreign workers staged a protest rally outside the Ministry of Labor headquarters in Taipei against the use of onsite factory dormitories, after two fires in Taoyuan City claimed the lives of eight migrants and six Taiwanese nationals in the past six months.

The workers, who are from Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam, are concerned at lax safety standards. Wu Ching-ju of the Taiwan International Workers’ Association said the government had done little to improve workers’ accommodation despite the tragedies.

Six Vietnamese migrant workers employed by Sican Company, a manufacturer of solar window film, were killed in December after a blaze broke out on the upper level of a factory warehouse that was made of sheet iron, The United Daily News reported.

Four months later, a fire at a facility operated by Chin Poon, also in Taoyuan, claimed the lives of two Thai migrants and six Taiwanese firefighters trying to rescue them. They were trapped inside a factory that produced printed circuit boards.

There are about 700,000 migrant workers in Taiwan, including 400,000 employed at factories. Most of the latter are housed in unsafe dormitories that are usually inside their factory complex, according to the Migrants Empowerment Network in Taiwan.

Huang Wei-cheng, a section chief in the Ministry of Labor’s Workforce Development Agency, said the Taiwan government was considering regulating against the use of dormitories inside factories by migrant workers, the Taiwan Times reported.

He said the issue would be raised at a meeting between the Ministry of Labor, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Ministry of the Interior in June. Huang would not confirm whether labor groups would be invited to the discussions, as they have requested.

The section chief said his ministry was also working on translating safety laws and regulations, as well as the rights and obligations of migrant workers, into their native languages. The relevant laws and regulations would be made available online as soon as possible.

Read: Six Vietnamese killed, five hurt in Taoyuan factory blaze