Episode Description

Recently the Ministry of Labor announced it was reviewing measures that would increase the salary for Taiwan’s more than 200,000 foreign born domestic workers and caregivers to the minimum wage and mandate they be given 8 hours of continuous rest every day.

To help us understand the proposals and what they could mean for domestic workers we called up Father Peter Nguyen Van Hung. He is the founder and head Taoyuan County based NGO Vietnamese Migrant Workers & Brides, which advocates for policy reform and offers support services to immigrants in Taiwan.

You can visit them on their website.

Added to the podcast edition

The US State Department recently released its annual Trafficking in Persons Report. This is a report that assesses the efforts of countries around the world to combat human trafficking and found that Taiwan fully met the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.


About a decade ago Father Hung was recognized by the US State Department for his work bringing to light the extent of human trafficking in Taiwan, so I asked him for his take on the report’s findings.

This photo of Father Hung is by 王毅丰 (Own work) [via WikimediaCommons]

They have to spend their own money here for themselves, and then they have to pay for the broker fee. I have met many Indonesian domestic workers who only receive two or three thousand NT per month because they have to pay their broker fee before coming to Taiwan.

How to listen

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You can learn more about Taiwan Talk at the show page here.

You can also find past episodes on this blog here.

Migrant workers who work as a domestic worker and caregiver in Taiwan don’t have power to put pressure on the government because they cannot vote. But the employer who employs them does have power. Therefore the government won’t do anything that would make these employers unhappy.

Recommended Reading
  • The Taipei Timesreported on the MOL’s plan to increase the wages of foreign in-home caregivers. Provides details about the proposals as well as some history on wage policy for domestic workers.
  • A day later, the MOL pushed back on reports that the wage increase would occur in July: the same time the minimum wage is set to increase. The MOL has said it plans to enact the proposals at the end of the year.
  • Here’s a 2006 profile of today’s guest.
  • Results from a 2011 Council of Labor Affairs survey that show that more than 85 percent of employers would be willing to pay wages at or above the minimum wage. Critical conclusion: “Officials said the survey showed that if the council proposed including foreign caregivers in the act and therefore having their salaries adjusted in accordance with the minimum wage, it would be widely accepted by most employers of foreign caregivers.”
  • More useful stats from the same survey. Here’s one that gives some data on how much these caregivers are working: “The average daily work hours reached a high of 12.9 for foreign caregivers employed by households, and their average work hours reached as many as 387 per month, as the vast majority of such caregivers were not allowed to take any leaves in the whole month.
  • Indonesian and Filipino workers staged a protest over the wage and work hours issues in February. This article details some of their complaints.
  • This is a little off topic, but here’s an article that paints a vivid picture of some of the challenges faced by migrant brides in Taiwan. It uses a lot of quotes from today’s guest.

This list is intended for anyone trying to learn more about this week’s topic. If you feel like I missed something, please let me know in the comments, and if it seems relevant I’ll add it in.

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