Interviewed, translated and edited by Isabelle Cheng. On 30 October 2020, the Taiwan Studies Programme hosted a webinar after the online screening of a pilot documentary Nine Shots (槍響之前) directed by Tsai Tsung-lung. This essay is an interview with Tsai about this pilot documentary, which discusses what, if not who, was responsible for the tragic death of Nguyen Quoc Phi. The latter was an undocumented Vietnamese migrant worker who was shot dead by the police, firing nine shots in 12 seconds, on 31 August 2017 in Hsinchu, northern Taiwan.
Taiwan Must Work with Indonesia to Combat Risks of Human Trafficking for Migrant Workers
Written by Bonny Ling. Since late-July 2020, a diplomatic row has embroiled the governments of Indonesia and Taiwan over who in principle should pay the cost of recruitment for low-skilled workers seeking jobs abroad. To date, the industry norm is that low-skilled migrant workers pay these fees of recruitment or placement to labour brokers in their home country, months before they begin their work and see their first pay. In order to secure a job abroad, many borrow heavily to pay for these recruitment costs upfront.
Desired Female Care Labour, Undesirable Migrant Care Workers, and Their Unwanted Reproduction
Written by Isabelle Cheng. [Migrant] men can’t produce babies, but women can. We can’t allow foreigners to give birth in Taiwan and breed more foreigners […] It is indeed inhumane to repatriate a pregnant woman. However, even permitted to give birth in Taiwan, she and her child would have to be deported eventually. It is even more inhumane to break her family and separate the child from the [Taiwanese] father after they’ve developed bonds (the Legislative Yuan, 17 April 1992, Taipei).
Pandemic, Labour, and Inequality
Written by Chin-fen Chang. As an export-driven economy, Taiwanese manufacturing has suffered a sharp drop in demands overseas during the first half of this year. Local businesses in Taiwan have also been affected by a lack of foreign tourists. Moreover, Taiwanese have been self-restrained in their consumption, suffering from income loss or concerning worse financial conditions to come in the near future. Labour markets also show significant job losses along with cutting regular earnings for those fortunately still on the payroll.
Taiwanese Sex Workers amid the Covid-19 Pandemic
Written by Mei-Hua Chen. There are nearly 9,000 people who have lost their jobs. The majority of these workers are found in the service sector. Nonetheless, after a hostess, who worked in Taipei, contracted the Coronavirus on the April 8, hostesses or sex workers who work in bars or dancing halls appear as the most vulnerable group in Taiwan. The Central Epidemic Command Centre (CCEC) of Taiwan immediately and indefinitely shut down 437 bars and dancing halls that provided hostess services across Taiwan.
Reaching out to Undocumented Workers: The Best Way to Contain COVID-19 Outbreak
Written by Hong-zen Wang, Pei-chia Lan, Yen-fen Tseng, Chia-ling Wu, Chiung-chih Chen. On 26th February 2020, Taiwan Centre for Disease Control (CDC) announced that there had been 32 confirmed cases of infection in Taiwan. Case #32 was unknowingly infected when she was employed as the caregiver for Case #27 during the latter’s hospitalisation. After the CDC disclosed her identity as an ‘illegal’ Indonesian migrant worker, public fears surged; consequently, several county governments announced that they would tighten the measures and crackdown on undocumented workers.
Can Migrant Workers Purchase Face Masks with Their Photo IDs?
Written by Ying-da Wong. The government seemed to take it for granted that all citizens and foreign residents are issued with an NHI Card, and that their NHI Card is valid. As a matter of fact, as detailed below, there is a wide gap between this presumption and reality. This gap may affect people’s rights or adversely curtail the effectiveness of disease prevention. So, before I move on, a fundamental question must be asked: are migrant workers entitled to the NHI, and are they issued with an NHI Card?
Organised Labour in Taiwan: the main issues and data at stake
Written by Francesca Congiu. The political emancipation of labour unions was followed by a progressive erosion of worker rights and has resulted in Taiwan racing to the bottom of global labour standards. Organised labour in Taiwan is characterised by its continuing low rate of unionisation, which has caused a profound void of worker representation since the beginning of democratisation.
Building International Labour Solidarity in Taipei
Written by Kevin Lin. In mid-August 2018, over 250 labour activists from more than a dozen countries across Asia spent three days in Taipei at the first Labour Notes regional conference. The gathering was meant to highlight the serious labour organising in Asia and discuss the ways forward. It was a unique occasion in many ways.
Gender Segregation of Work in Taiwan
Written by Chin-fen Chang. The female labour force participation rate in Taiwan has in recent years increased and is now over 50%. Women account for 44% of total employment and the proportion of women holding degrees of university education is almost equal to that of men. The socio-economic and legal status of Taiwanese women has improved over the past few decades and Taiwan’s Gender Equality in Employment Act was implemented in 2002. Global gender equality indices show Taiwan ranking high and topping East Asian states.
Taiwan’s Independent Labour Movement is at a Crossroads
Written by Santanu Sarkar and Mei-Chun Liu. The independent labour movement is at a crossroads. The DPP’s campaign for independence will reduce jobs as the mainland will curb exports and investment in Taiwan, whereas defending unification will rob Taiwanese jobs as the mainland friendly KMT will not hesitate to liberalise the economy so that the outflow of foreign investment increases alongside privatisation.