Taiwan Moves to Protect Rights of OFWs, Other Migrant Workers

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TAIPEI – Taiwan has devised special measures to protect the rights of some 69,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and other members of the island’s migrant work force, according to Taiwanese labor officials.The measures make Taiwan one of the countries in the world where the rights of migrant workers are best protected, according to Lin San-gwei, director-general of Taiwan’s Bureau of Employment and Vocational Training, which is under the Council of Labor Affairs (CLA).In a meeting with a delegation of journalists from the Asia Pacific region, Lin said at least four new measures have been put in place specifically to ensure a smooth and problem-free working relationship between the migrant workers and their employers.First, when a first-time migrant worker arrives in Taiwan, he is greeted at the airport by personnel from the labor ministry even before he could meet his employer, Lin said. Right at the airport, the worker gets a briefing on his rights under Taiwan laws.“We even send personnel who can speak to the migrant workers in their own native language so that they would be able to fully understand us. We tell them not only about their rights but also on where they can find help in case they feel their rights are being violated,” Lin said.Second, Taiwan officials have devised a four-digit toll-free number – 1955 – which migrant workers can call 24 hours a day, seven days a week to report any work-related complaint. “Assistance is given immediately upon receipt of the worker’s complaint,” Lin said.Third, Taiwan’s Bureau of Employment and Vocational Training has been empowered to mediate in disputes between workers and their employers.“We try to bridge the gap between them,” Lin said.He said sometimes, the misunderstanding is rooted in cultural differences.“We received a recent complaint from a Filipino worker who said that his employer only gives him congee meals for breakfast. He said he can’t understand why his employer treats him this way since in the Philippines congee is only given to patients in hospitals. We told the worker that congee is the usual Chinese breakfast meal. At the same time, we told the employer to provide his worker with the meal he likes,” Lin said. …