移工也是人!洪申翰感性訴求 盼提升台灣勞動環境 | Hung Sung-han pushes to improve Taiwan’s working environment for migrant workers

Legislator Hung Sung-han emphasized: "migrant workers" are people" and should be treated as such. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)


There are still many aspects to be improved regarding the issue of foreign migrant workers in Taiwan. Taiwan, which originally made headlines this year for managing to keep the pandemic under control, but later severely damaged its image on the international stage because of its ban on migrant workers in Miaoli District.


Under the epidemic, it became apparent that migrant workers have not received their due respect in Taiwan. To this, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP, 民進黨)Legislator Hung Sung-han called on the people and the government to recognize and acknowledge that “migrant workers are also human beings.”


Hung pointed out that in the past, the government always regarded migrant workers as a “labor force”, but abandoned them whenever it came to the care and rights they deserved.


In this regard, he said that although this is a problem that requires time and energy to improve, what can be changed first is to establish more public dormitories and interpreters for migrant workers in Taiwan.

During the pandemic, we saw migrant workers prohibited from leaving their dorm rooms because of the cluster infection outbreak. However, it was not only migrant workers who had tested positive for the virus, yet they were the only ones to be treated unfairly and restrained.


Hung pointed out that the overcrowded dormitories would certainly increase the risk of further spreading of the virus. He pointed out that the government should have taken advantage of the opportunity to establish accommodation space that meets basic living needs with government resources, and set up public dormitories in industrial areas that are in line with international labor standards. In this way, it can also help employers bear part of the burden on housing.


On the other hand, Hung remarked that the government should also improve the interpretation and translation resources provided for migrant workers.


He said that although the number of migrant workers in Taiwan has exceeded 700,000, the resources for interpreters are very scarce.


He believes that many migrant workers in their own countries have gradually come to understand their rights with the gradual development of society; however, after arriving in Taiwan, perhaps due to language barriers, claiming and exercising these rights become increasingly difficult.


Hung said that “language is a basic thing”, and pointed out that all kinds of documents should be provided in various languages of Southeast Asian countries. Nonetheless, the government seems very reluctant to push this policy along, he said, adding that it is a problem that needs to be solved quickly.


Talking about the labor broker system in Taiwan, Hung said that for many years, the government has pushed many problems onto labor brokers when they should have taken responsibility. When labor brokers are unable to handle the issues properly, the problems are then handed over to the employers, creating pressure at different levels in society.

“The government needs to play a bigger role in this; not simply throw them (problems) to the employers or the market. If they do so, the disadvantaged will likely be exploited.”


The problem of illegal labor brokers is still present today and cannot be resolved based on the current evaluation and inspection regulations alone, Hung said. In addition, there is no way to protect those who are playing by the rules.


Too many of the government’s responsibilities now fall on the shoulders of the labor brokers, he continued, adding that he believes the problem faced by migrant workers is not a single problem, but an indication of the issues the system faces, overall.

If the working conditions of migrant workers are not good, it will also lower the working conditions and salary standards in Taiwan, Hung remarked.


He explained that if we can improve the problems faced by migrant workers now, “it can be of great help to Taiwan’s social welfare, care, labor and subsequently, various issues regarding the safety of all who live in Taiwan.”