Without protecting migrant domestic workers, the intermediate skilled manpower and permanent residency project is an empty promise

Organized by:MENT

Contact for press:Unta Hsu許淳淮0954065543

Supporting groups:

Domestic Caretaker Union, DCU


Awakening Foundation

Vying to retain workers but with wrong focus

The basic salary was raised to NT25, 250 in January 2022. However, domestic workers’ basic salary has not changed for 7 years and remains as 17,000. Even as the pay gap between the salary of domestic workers and basic salary reaches a historical high (NT8,250), the Executive Yuan ironically gave the green light on ”long-term retention of migrant workers program” intending to retain migrant workers in Taiwan in order to compete with other migrant-receiving countries.

In the new so-called “long-term retention of migrant workers program,” the bar on “middle-level skilled manpower” and “right to permanent residency” is set too high.,  However this program does nothing to address the long-standing lack-of-protection by labor laws, long working hours and low salary, no privacy and no labor insurance etc. are faced by domestic workers. How many migrant workers are willing to consider Taiwan as “the place for long term residency” under these kind of working conditions?

In 2012, the working-year limit for blue-collar migrant workers in Taiwan was extended to 12 years. However, according to Ministry of Labor statistics, only 30% of the migrant worker population has worked in Taiwan for over 6 years, and 10% for over 9 years. This leads us to ask: if the working-year limit has already been extended to 12 years, why do so few migrant workers stay the full 12 years?

The reason that migrant workers choose not to stay in Taiwan is not limited to a “long-term residency program,” but is mainly influenced by poor working conditions, unequal treatment by policies, lack of freedom to change jobs, exploitation by the broker system, limited working years in Taiwan and a failure to implement of labor laws, etc.. The “solution” put forth by the Ministry of Labor and Executive Yuan fails to address the reality faced by migrant workers and misses the point entirely.

30 years without legal protection for Migrant domestic workers,

Over the past thirty years, the poor working environment of domestic workers has not been improved due to the exclusion of domestic workers in the application of <the Labor Standards Act> and the non-enacted <Household Service Act>.

According to the latest “statistics of the investigative results of the management and application of migrant workers”, while migrant domestic workers’ contracts stipulate 1 rest day per week, merely 4.3% of migrant domestic workers  take their full stipulated rest days:21.4% have partial rest days and a staggering 74.3% have no rest days at all. While this may have been influenced by COVID-19, the percentage of migrant domestic workers with no rest days has consistently been above 34%, meaning that at least 70,000 migrant care workers have had no rest days during their time in Taiwan. How is Taiwan going to compete with other countries and attract the migrant workforce with working conditions like this?

 Jun. 2017Jun. 2018Jun. 2019Jun. 2020Jun. 2021
1 Rest day per week11.7%11.2%11.4%6.6%4.3%
Some rest days53.5%54.1%54.2%50.7%21.4%
No rest days34.8%34.7%34.4%42.7%74.3%

Moreover, the minimum wage was raised from NT. 15,840 to 17,280 on 2007 after being stagnant for 10 years. However, Lu Tien-lin, then the chairman of Council of Labor Affairs, excluded migrant domestic workers from receiving this raise, quoting their lack of coverage within the Labor Standards Act.

Therefore, the minimum wage of migrant domestic workers remained as “15,840”until the year of 2017, when it was finally raised to the current 17000. The belated raise still failed to meet the minimum wage increase in 2007. If counted from “15,840” in 1997, the minimum wage has been raised 11 times in 24 years.. However, in the same span of time, migrant domestic workers’ minimum wage was only increased one time by a trivial amount of NT1,160.

 The salary of migrant domestic workers has remained the same for 7 years after 2015, with the discrepancy of the minimum wage getting ever-larger. The discrepancy of basic salaries between migrant domestic workers and other workers has reached a historical high of 8,250 this year. In other words, the salary of migrant domestic workers is a mere two thirds of the minimum wage.

基本工資與家務移工薪資歷次調整走勢:Minimum wage increases of migrant domestic workers compared with the Labor Standards Act minimum wage increases, 1997-2022.

差額創新高:Record-high pay gap

勞基法基本工資:Labor Standards Act Minimum Wage

家務移工薪資:Migrant domestic worker minimum wage

Shattered dreams of residency built on Tsai’s empty promises

In 2016, whilst campaigning for the presidential election, Tsai Ing-wen promised that “We will definitely prioritize enacting the long-overdue<Household Service Act>.” Six years have passed, Tsai’s words ring hollow as the Household Service Act remains unpassed. Furthermore, on August 2021, the Ministry of Labor further enshackled migrant domestic workers by adding additional restrictions on changing jobs to different industries: a major step backwards for migrant worker rights.

. After DPP took authority, they failed to make any solid contributions towards protecting migrant domestic workers rights or evaluate decades-old migrant workers policies. After suddenly coming to the realization that migrant workers are choosing Japan and Korea over Taiwan, the DPP hastily implemented the “long-term retention of migrant workers program”. However, without any improvement of the pre-existing working conditions of migrant domestic workers, the high requirements of “middle skilled manpower (the monthly salary of domestic care-takers set at NT. 24,000 )” and “permanent residency (the monthly salary set at NT. 50,500)” perpetuate a false dream..

If the government actually intends to retain Taiwan’s 220,000 migrant domestic workers, it should immediate enact the “Household Service Act” instead of implementing the “long-term retention of migrant workers program”. Only then will migrant domestic workers also have basic protections such as a minimum wage, limited working hours, and guaranteed continuous rest time. We also call for the government to provide long-term care resources for families in need of such service. In this way, both domestic migrant workers and families in need can be protected under the long-term care system.

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