Seven of the 168 retrenched workers were able to clinch some of their demands because of their assertion of their rights.
Seven of the 168 retrenched workers of Walton Advanced Engineering Inc. in Taiwan were able to clinch some of their demands because of their assertion of their rights.
This was relayed by the Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM) and the Migrante chapter in Taiwan.
The seven workers, who were not named by APMM, received the following: 1) payment for breach of contract amounting to NT$17,280 for every month remaining in their contract; 2) cost of plane ticket from Taiwan to the Philippines; 3) separation fee; 4) refund of a one-month broker fee amounting to NT$1,800; and, 5) refund for the 20 percent income tax deducted from them by the Taiwan government.
The seven workers were assisted by the Labor Rights Association (LRA) and later by Migrante Taiwan.
The rest of the 168 workers, said APMM, were intimidated by their broker, the Century Pacific Corporation. They were made to sign a quit-claim agreement with the threat that if they did not sign, they risk not receiving any money, not being provided food in their dormitories, and not being given airfare to go back home.
The APMM claimed that the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) only renegotiated on behalf of the seven workers when the plight of the Filipino workers in Walton was raised directly to the head office of the Council of Labor Affairs (CLA), and was publicized in the media on January 9.
Migrante Taiwan said MECO told the 161 workers to shoulder their airfare even if this violates article 4.2 of the employment contract, which stipulates that the employer pays for the fare to and from Taiwan.
The 161 workers got a measly separation pay since most of them had only been working in Taiwan for only four to six months. Separation pay is equivalent to one month’s basic pay (NT$17,280) for every year of service. They were also made to pay for two months of brokers’ fees since they were not able to pay for these. There was no refund for the 20 percent income tax.
The incident at Walton is not an isolated one, said APMM. Of the nearly 5,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) laid off in Taiwan last year, 742 from 10 companies “voluntarily resigned”.
Migrante Taiwan said that Philippine Labor Attaché in Taiwan Rodolfo Sabulao admitted in a dialogue with Filipino migrant organizations on January 11 that they are more interested in retaining the job orders of employers.
“This simply means that the MECO does not dare to file breach of contract and/or illegal termination cases against employers lest their job orders be threatened,” said Migrante.
The Philippine government, said APMM and Migrante, is not after the protection of the rights of OFWs.
The groups said MECO’s position is in line with the national government’s labor export policy (LEP).
The two groups said OFWs should follow the footsteps of the seven workers at Walton in asserting their rights and in linking with local and other groups willing to assist them. “They should also inculcate in their minds that right now all the working people in Taiwan are being attacked by being laid-off; being forced to accept unpaid leave and other anti-worker schemes and should be ready to assist even the local workers who are resisting these attacks,” they said. (Bulatlat.com)