Control Yuan demands labor insurance coverage for all migrant fishermen

TAIPEI (CNA) — The Control Yuan on Wednesday approved a motion put forth by two of its members, calling for labor insurance coverage for all migrant fishermen in Taiwan.

The motion, initiated by Control Yuan members Wang Yu-ling (王幼玲) and Wang Mei-yu (王美玉), said a survey revealed that only 5,000 of the 9,789 migrant fishermen in Taiwan have labor insurance coverage, although it is mandatory under Taiwan law.

This means the uninsured migrant fishermen cannot claim government compensation in the event of injury on the job, nor are they entitled to retirement or death benefits, said the Control Yuan, the watchdog branch of government.

It said the Ministry of Labor (MOL) must therefore ensure that the owners of Taiwan-registered fishing vessels enroll their migrant workers in the labor insurance system, as is required by law.

The MOL and Fisheries Agency must also conduct more frequent labor inspections to push those employers to improve the living and working conditions for migrant fishermen, the Control Yuan said.

It said that some 70 percent of migrant fishermen in Taiwan work in relatively small vessels that are not equipped with showers, which forces those workers to bathe on deck or take cold showers in dockside facilities when the boats pull into port.

Over the past three years, the MOL has conducted only 129 rounds of labor inspections on Taiwanese fishing vessels and has reported that it found no irregularities in 80 percent the cases, which hardly reflects the poor working and living conditions onboard, the Control Yuan said.

The government should protect the basic human rights of migrant fishermen and safeguard their dignity and privacy, the Control Yuan said, urging the relevant government authorities to build more facilities for such workers in Taiwan.

Sleeping conditions of migrant fishers on a boat in Yilan (CNA file photo)
Sleeping conditions of migrant fishers on a boat in Yilan (CNA file photo)

In response, the MOL said it will continue to urge employers of migrant fishermen to register their workers in the national labor insurance system and will fine those who do not comply.

Many Taiwanese employers are reluctant to register their workers in the labor insurance system because of the relatively high cost, according to the MOL.

In 2019, the MOL imposed total fines of NT$ 3.1 million (US$ 102,024) for 68 violations of the labor insurance law among employers of migrant fishermen.