More than a thousand workers from Southeast Asia marched through the streets of Taipei today. The march had the slogan “Still no day off” (還沒休假), calling on the Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) to ensure that workers have one day off per week. Taiwan has more than 300,000 migrant workers from Southeast Asia.
The protest is a biennial event which began in 2003 and is held near the date of Human Rights Day. Foreign workers organisations participating in the event included Taiwan International Workers Association (TIWA), Migrants Empowerment Network in Taiwan (MENT), Migrante and church groups. There were also a number of Taiwanese NGOs such as the Green Party, COSWAS and the Gender/Sexuality Rights Association there in support.
The situation of domestic workers was highlighted. Foreign workers hired to do domestic work receive a minimum salary of NT$15,840 compared to the minimum basic wage in Taiwan of NT$17,280. These workers are often on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Another group arguing for their rights were the “stateless Chinese”. These people hold ROC passports but don’t have an ID card in Taiwan and are denied some of the rights available to Taiwanese citizens. A man from the group told me there are about 1,800 people in this situation who were originally from the Philippines.
The march came to an end at the CLA office in Yanping North Road. The large crowd sat on the plaza in front of the office to listen to speeches. With workers from the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand participating announcements and the shouting of slogans came in a multitude of languages. However, they all spoke with one voice on the issue of demanding better rights for migrant workers in Taiwan.
*More photos in the workers protest for a day off set at flickr.