Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People
People on the Move
N° 104, August 2007
APPEAL OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH TO THE GOVERNMENT OF TAIWAN IN FAVOUR OF MIGRANTS LABOURERS
(23 June 2007)
H.E. Msgr Bosco LIN
Commission for the Pastoral Care
of Migrants and Itinerant People, CRCB
The Catholic Church has always dedicated herself to promote and protect human rights and basic human dignity. The present Pope Benedict XVI expressed that "migrants (workers) are a sign of times", the governments should not ignore, their rights and benefits are very much concern for the Church too. Promotion of human reciprocal respect, equal treatment, indifference of nationalities, ethnics, social classes, age and gender, all these are the basic principles of the Catholic doctrines.
The Catholic Church in Taiwan faces up to the problems of the immigrants and migrant workers in Taiwan, appeals the Government and to society to look at their sufferings and problems from exploitation.
It was just approved by the Executive Yuan on 6 June, that the rate of basic wage has been increased 9.09%, and it will be implemented since 1 July. But, among the five corresponding policies, the Council of Labor agrees the employer can increase the deductible amount for food and lodging of migrant workers from their wages up to NT $ 5,000. In fact, such a policy makes the wages of foreign factory workers and construction company, decrease; the increase of 9% of the basic wage is like drawing a big bread for the migrant workers.
Then, 150,000 foreign workers who take care of the aged, weak, sick, handicapped and children, are shouldering permanently bad labor conditions (like working over time, no rest in the whole year...), such realties are serious concerns by the Government of the U.S.A. in their report of anti-human trafficking in 2006; in the worldwide report of the U.S.A. on human trafficking, its evaluation on Taiwan was downward to the second class observed name list. These foreign care takers of families should, according to the usual practice, be paid according to the basic wage, but in the process of this increase of basic wage, they are excluded by the Council of Labor for the reason in at they are "not applicable in the law of the basic wage", it made the foreign corers for families who were already legal orphans out of law, without bottom line according to the basic wage.
We know that, basic wage is the basic safeguard of, a country to maintain the most basic living expenses and standard wage of laborers. But the new policies of the increase of the basic wage differentiates powerless laborers, making marginalized laborers weaker. The 350,000 foreign workers do benefit by this, and they are even more discriminated. What is more, the lowering of the wages of foreign workers may affect the labor condition of the whole labor market of Taiwan, detaching the basic wage from the wage of foreign workers, the real victims bens not only foreign workers themselves bat, also the laborers of Taiwan will face more serious unemployment.
The Government should work for a more just society, avoiding unjust policies which create social discrimination and social differentiation. This policy of increasing basic wage makes us worry that the Government considers the election roughly, play my game by showing an increase of wages, but in reality, decreases the wage, taking money from the tax payers to subsidize the employers, this goies against social justice. In the disguise of detaching the basic wage from of families and factory workers, not only has it sacrificed foreign workers, it has even increased the unjust structure of the marginalized to exclude one another reciprocally.
The basic wage should not be distinguished in different working fields, it should be applied for all the laborers. Employers who employ the foreign cares for the weak and for handicapped families, should also enjoy the relevant corresponding policies of the Government.
We strongly appeal to the society and the Government of Taiwan to reflect deeply our duty on caring the migrant workers and marginalized, and to modify application of this increase of basic wage.