Migrant and Local Working People Unite and Defend Our Social and Economic Rights

MIGRANTE Taiwan Chapter together with APMM and its allied migrant organizations in Taiwan and in other countries in the Asia Pacific region expresses its strong solidarity with the working people in Taiwan in this historic day of the working class.

International Labor Day celebrates the social and economic achievements of the labor movement. Yet since the advent of neo-liberal globalization, those who adhere to this failed doctrine have intensified their attacks on these achievements.

It is imperative that migrant and local working people around the world and in Taiwan unite to defend their social and economic interests. At the same time, migrant workers should be part of their peoples’ movements in their home countries who are struggling also against neo-liberal policies implemented by their governments. This is the reason why they have been forced to migrate to Taiwan as such policies resulted in the devastation of their economies.

Those who adhere to neo-liberal policies attribute capitalism’s crisis to the high wages of the working people and to the social services provided by governments to their nationals.

As early as in 2001 the Taiwan government introduced labor flexibility measures to attack the wages of migrant and local working people and increase the profits of capitalists.

1. Legalization of brokers’ fees in the guise of service fees on migrants

2. Payment for board and lodging fees of up to NT$4,000 a month for migrants. This was later raised up to NT$5,000 a month in 2007.

3. Non-payment of overtime pay for those who work more than eight hours for those who opt for two days work, one day off and the like schemes

The recession last year led to the further intensification of the attacks on the jobs and rights of the working people. These were through retrenchments and the massive implementation of unpaid leave and no work, no pay schemes. This condition has led to making it more common for one to become temporary, short-term, and seasonal workers. At the same time, companies are bailed-out but the common working people have to fend off for themselves.

Other than these migrant workers working in homes continue to be excluded from the protection of the Labor Standards Law and their take home pay has not been raised by more than a decade. The main problem with this is that the Taiwan government refuses to view domestic work as work especially in live in arrangements.

The contribution of caregivers to Taiwanese society is supposed to be the responsibility of the Taiwan government. But instead the latter has relegated this essential service to the private sector. This includes health care; hospital care; dental care; childcare; and elderly care among others which the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), which is one of the agreements administered by the WTO and which is being adhered to by the Taiwan government.

Migrant and local workers should resist the attacks on their jobs and rights. They already have some success like forcing the Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) to reverse its decision that those who are under unpaid leave should not be paid lower than the minimum wage. Another was the reversal of the Ministry of Finance’s (MOF) proposal to add income tax on migrant workers.

Imagine what it would be like if the migrant and local working people unite to assert their rights and welfare. This should include resisting further job and pay cuts and in ensuring that a growing number of low paid workers including migrant domestic workers are protected by the legislated minimum wage.

At the same time, the working peoples should look and bat for an alternative other than the prevailing system that looks after the interests of capital first than that of laborers. This system should be more for the interests of the working people whose labor creates wealth for the society.

For migrant workers, they should struggle with their peoples’ movement to solve the root causes of forced migration and actively work for a homeland where there is opportunity for everyone to live a decent and humane life.

Long live the working class!

Long live the migrant workers!

The People United Will Never Be Defeated!

Long live International solidarity!

Migrante Taiwan

Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM)

April 26, 2009