Taiwan News: Migrant Workers Protest Illegal 'Job-Buying' Brokerage Fees

Taiwan News: Migrant Workers Protest Illegal 'Job-Buying' Brokerage Fees
Credit: TIWA Facebook
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Migrant workers are demanding the Ministry of Labor (MoL) clamp down on brokers who illegally charge workers recruitment fees to get new contracts.

According to the Taiwan International Workers' Association (TIWA), it is now commonplace for brokers to charge the so-called "job-buying fees," especially following the 2016 amendment to the Employment Service Act (ESA).

The amendment abolished the requirement that foreign workers must leave Taiwan for one day after three years of employment in order to be eligible to re-enter to renew their contracts or begin work on a new contract. It also relieved migrant workers from another placement fee payment.

However, the lack of a job-matching mechanism operated by the government means workers are still forced to use brokers to secure a new contract because most job search channels are still dominated by such brokerages.

Migrant workers support groups have long demanded the government establish a direct hiring system to replace the private brokerage system.

Taiwan and Indonesia on Friday signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on migrant worker rights. Taiwan agreed to increase the minimum monthly wage of Indonesian domestic caregivers from NT$15,840 (US$514) to NT$17,000 (US$551), among other measures.

Read Next: Taiwan Labor Ministry's Brokerage Evaluation Sparks Concern

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Charges against a Nantou student found to be behind a major "fake news" story have been dropped, according to the Taipei Times.

The student, surnamed Yu (游), had been charged with spreading disinformation on PTT, saying on Sept. 6 that China's consulate helped stranded Taiwanese passengers at Japan's Kansai Airport following Typhoon Jebi while accusing the Osaka branch of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office of not doing enough to help its citizens.

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Credit: Reuters / TPG
Read More: What Really Happened During the Kansai Airport Evacuation?

The former director-general of the Taipei office, Su Chii-cherng (蘇啟誠), took his own life on Sept. 14. Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), Taiwan's representative to Japan, said finding the person behind the fake news story would help clear Su's name.

However, a Taiwan Nantou District Court judge said the evidence provided by prosecutors failed to prove the post had led to social disturbance.

Yu had been charged with violating Article 63 of the Social Order Maintenance Act (社會秩序維護法). The article, along with other legislation aimed at halting the spread of disinformation, has been criticized by free speech advocates.

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Officials say 17 passengers have been caught attempting to bring meat products into Taiwan on the third day of heavier fines.

According to the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine, 13 of the individuals attempting to bring in meat products were Taiwanese, two were from China, and one each from Thailand and Indonesia.

The bureau says 10 of the 17 cases originated from China, with four caught at both Taoyuan International Airport and Taipei Songshan Airport, and one each at Taichung International Airport.

The other case of meat smuggling was discovered by customs officials on Kinmen.

The amended Article 45-1 of the Statute for Prevention and Control of Infectious Animal Disease went in to affect on Friday.

It sees increases of fines for individuals caught smuggling meat products from area affected with African swine flu.

First time offenders face a NT$50,000 fine (US$1,622), second-time offenders are now being fined NT$500,000 (US$16,217) while repeat offenders now face a fine of NT$1 million (US$32,434).

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Finance Minister Su Jain-rong (蘇建榮) is warning that the ongoing U.S.-China trade war will definitely hit Taiwan and that there is no 'wonder drug' for the country that will be able to ease the pain of the impact.

According to Su, more than 40 percent of Taiwan's exports last year were shipped to China, most of which were intermediate goods, and the situation means that those products will eventually be sold to the United States and other markets.

Su says if the U.S.-China trade war curtails the products that Taiwanese businesses manufacture in China from being sold to the U-S, it is certain to affect the island's economy.

The minister is warning that although the trade war could lead to a transfer of orders from China to Taiwan, some Taiwanese businesses will still face huge changes, regardless of where they opt to expand their production capacity to.

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The government says a recent report shows that nearly 2 million women are not in the labor force for family reasons.

The report comes amid concern that Taiwan is facing a looming manpower shortage in Taiwan due to a rapidly aging population.

The Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics conducts the manpower utilization survey each May to exclude the seasonal effects of the graduation season and the Lunar New Year.

According to the report, the number of people aged 15 to 64 not in the labor force had reached 5.24 million in May.

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Credit: Corbis/達志影像
A recent report says nearly 2 million women are not in the workforce for family reasons.

Home responsibilities were the main reason cited for not working by nearly 2.04 million people, followed by "attending school or preparing for entrance exams," cited by nearly 2.03 million people.

Meanwhile, 50,000 people cited "old age, physical or mental challenges" as reasons for not working.

The report found that among the nearly 2.04 million people who were not in the work force for family reasons, 1.98 million were women.

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Animal health authorities have culled nearly 7,000 chickens at a poultry farm in Changhua County following confirmation of an outbreak of a subtype of highly pathogenic H5N2 influenza virus.

It is the first bird flu case to have been reported here in Taiwan so far his winter.

The Animal Disease Control Center says the infection was detected among samples collected on December 6 from the poultry farm in Lugang Township.

Officials say authorities also carried out cleaning and disinfection work on the premises to help prevent any possible spread of the virus, which is more likely to be transmitted during winter.

Nearby poultry farmers are being advised to remain on the lookout for any signs of disease and to maintain strict biosecurity measures.

Poultry farmers who fail to follow measures aimed at preventing the spread of subtypes of H5 and H7 avian flu face fines of between NT$30,000 (US$973) and NT$150,000 (US$4,865).

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Chunghwa Picture Tubes has declared a suspension of operations at its factories in Longtan and Yangmei districts in Taoyuan.

According to company president Lin Sheng-chang (林盛昌), all the production lines have now been halted.

The move comes after Chunghwa Picture Tubes said it planned to apply to the Taoyuan District Court for a debt restructuring to allow it to remain in business because it has faced an imminent default on its repayments.

The company employs 4,450 workers here in Taiwan, 1,830 of whom are assembly line workers.

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A former U.S. congresswoman who voted nearly 40 years ago in favor of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) said the act works "pretty well" for the country, as it continues to thrive on all fronts nearly four decades later.

Pat Schroeder said she is very surprised that 40 years later, the TRA has worked so well, as at the time it was drafted, the U.S. had never done anything like that before.

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Credit: Youtube Screenshot
Former US Congresswoman Pat Schroeder.

She also praised Taiwan's highly educated citizens, well-developed public transportation system, and booming economic environment.

The U.S. changed its diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing on January 1, 1979.

A few months later, the U.S. Congress passed the TRA, which was promulgated by then-President Jimmy Carter April 10, 1979.

The TRA provides the legal basis for unofficial relations between the U.S. and Taiwan, and enshrines the U.S. commitment to assist Taiwan in maintaining its self-defense capability.

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A Chinese graduate student at Taiwan's National Tsing Hua University remains missing after going snorkeling off the Indonesian island of Gili Air.

Zhang Qiujue was studying at the university's Institute of Sociology and Anthropology. She went missing on Dec. 9 off the coast of Lombok.

According to the school's student affairs officer, search efforts are continuing.

The Straits Exchange Foundation says it has informed its China's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits, of the matter and has asked Taiwan's representative office in Indonesia to provide assistance.

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This news bulletin was provided courtesy of International Community Radio Taipei (ICRT), Taiwan’s leading English-language broadcaster.

Editor: Nick Aspinwall (@Nick1Aspinwall)

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