Today (Oct. 29th, 2017) the National Home-based Workers (NHW) union had their first meeting to introduce the new union and to have a vote on who the board of the union and its members will be. The NHW will be there to help domestic workers in Taiwan, they have very few rights under the current labor act and the union wants to be able to change this in the future. They feel that caregivers are treated as second class citizens and that it’s time for the Taiwanese government to change their status. The director of the Service Center and Shelter for migrant workers, Mr. Lennon, Ying-Dah, Wong likened the situations of some home based workers as being close to slave like, with some having absolutely no days off in a year. He also said that migrant workers are sometimes forced to stay in a terrible job, sometimes in abusive situations, because the brokerage firms will send them home if they complain.
Migrant workers have recently seen a pay increase under the new labor laws but domestic workers weren’t afforded this opportunity since they are not covered by under the labor laws currently. The minimum wage for a home-based worker is about NT$ 17,000 which is much less than the minimum wage other recieve, which set to be raising to NT$ 22,000 a month and 140 an hour from 2018. This is why domestic workers feel they have to start their own union to fight for their rights as workers and human beings.
The ongoing mock referendum on workers rights was also being held at the meeting. The participants at the meeting were able to cast their ballots after showing a valid ARC, visa or Taiwanese ID card.
The three questions on the ballot focus on if migrant caregivers should be protected by the Labor Standards Act. If foreign workers should be able to change their employers freely. Also, if the government should get rid of the private employment brokerage system and instead have a direct government to government hiring scheme.
Below are the some pictures from the first board meeting of NHW: