Taiwan’s minimum wage announcement unjust and a charade, say migrant workers

Jun. 07, 2007

The 9.09 percent minimum wage hike announced yesterday by Premier Chang Chun-hsiung is unjust and a charade for migrant workers. As the Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) virtually offsets the increase by raising the monthly board and lodging fees of migrants to 25% or from NT$4,000 V NT$5,000 and by not including the 45% household service workers in the wage hike. So how could these measures protect the livelihood or income of foreign workers and increase their purchasing power, which was the basis of the Premier for the wage hike.

In fact the increase in board and lodging fees is from 50 – 54% as the CLA in earlier pronouncements admitted that majority of migrant workers pay between NT$2300 V NT$2500 a month for this.

At the same time, the increase of such fees would make the legal deductions on Filipino migrant workers to NT$8837 a month or 51% of NT$17,280. Indonesians are far worse as they are deducted NT$11,085 a month, which is 64% of the new minimum wage. (Kindly see attached document on deductions)

This is equivalent to 37 months of the new minimum wage for Filipinos while it is equivalent to 46 months for Indonesians. This is outrageous to say the least and makes a mockery of the minimum wage on migrant workers. There should be an inquiry by the authorities concerned on this.

We do not include here the tactics of capitalists which peg the minimum wage to as low as NT$10,000 a month. They do this by pegging other items of the wage as perfect attendance, good performance and even food allowance, which should be itemized as bonuses or incentives pay instead. The problem is the CLA allows this.

On the other hand, household service workers like caretakers and domestic helpers would be jeopardized twice as they are not included in the wage increase and are not even covered by the Labor Law. This runs counter to the wage increase ten years ago, when they were included in the hike.

It seems that the CLA does not give a damn on the conditions of migrant workers even if supposedly its new head is a former labor leader. In truth, Minister Lu Tien-lin who used to be chair of the Taiwan Confederation of Trade Unions (TCTU) is just being consistent with his previous position in 2001 when the TCTU agreed with the CLA to impose a board and lodging fee on migrant workers.

We also challenge the Philippine and other governments of sending countries to protest this charade. MECO and the other country representative offices cannot anymore offer the excuse to remain silent given that the Taiwan government has already announced the wage increase.

We will not take this standing still but would continue to encourage migrant workers to push for the decrease on the deductions on their monthly pay and to include those working in homes in the wage hike.

Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants
Migrante International V Taiwan Chapter
Gabriela Womens Party V Taiwan Chapter

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