Saturday, June 25, 2016

Foreign workers reform bill passes first reading

Foreign workers reform bill passes first reading

DEATH THREATS?Legislator Lin Shu-fen said she has been threatened by labor agencies over her proposed laws, adding that if she dies, police should investigate

By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff reporter, with CNA

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lin Shu-fen yesterday makes a "no suicide declaration" at the legislature, saying that she has received death threats from manpower agencies.

Photo: Chu Pei-hsiung, Taipei Times

An amendment to allow foreign workers to remain in Taiwan without having to leave the nation when they have worked for three years passed its first reading at the legislature’s Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee yesterday.
The amendment to the Employment Service Act (就業服務法) would allow foreign workers who have lived in Taiwan for more than three years to be rehired directly without having to first leave the nation, a move designed to benefit both employers and foreign workers.
Workforce Development Agency Director-General Huang Chiu-kuei (黃秋桂) said the revision marks a noticeable improvement in the nation’s history of human rights protection.
In the future, all types of foreign workers can extend their work years in Taiwan without having to leave the nation and apply for a new visa, Huang said.
The new measure would not only save foreign workers time and money — with labor brokers demanding fees in their home countries — but would also help Taiwanese employers avoid periods without their employees, along with training costs, she said.
There are 595,695 foreign workers in Taiwan, about 240,000 of whom are from Indonesia, according to Ministry of Labor statistics.
Before the revision clears the Legislative Yuan, about 14,000 of them would need to leave each year to be able to continue working here, the ministry said.
In such cases, some foreign workers need to pay brokerage or other fees to re-enter the nation, the ministry said.
In some countries, brokerage fees pose a serious burden for people seeking to work overseas, it said, adding that the fee is about NT$50,000 to NT$54,000 in Indonesia, while the figure could reach as high as NT$120,000 for Vietnamese workers.
The amendments were proposed by Democratic Progressive Party legislators Lin Shu-fen (林淑芬) and Wu Yu-chin (吳玉琴).
Meanwhile, during a legislative meeting yesterday, a tearful Lin read her “no suicide statement,” saying that she has been threatened by some labor agencies for pushing through regulations in favor of foreign workers.
Lin said that she has received threats from labor agencies.
“Wu and I are struggling to protect the rights of foreign workers, but since we are blocking some people from making more money, some labor agencies are spreading false rumors on the Internet and have even threatened my life,” Lin said. “I therefore would like to announce that I will not commit suicide over anything, and, if I die [in what seems like an] accident, I ask that the police launch an investigation.”
Lin said that, despite being threatened, she would not give up defending foreign workers’ rights against exploitation by labor agencies, adding that she would take legal action against those who spread false rumors about her.
“It is a shame that Taiwan has often been listed as a nation with human trafficking problems by international human rights groups because of how we mistreat foreign workers,” Lin said. “We must make a change.”

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