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Control Yuan requests MOL provide labor insurance coverage for all migrant fishers

  • PostDate:2020-06-02

Migrant fishers enjoy statutory labor insurance coverage, and their employers are required to contribute to their premiums so that they may claim government compensation in the event of injury on the job, as well as the same right to medical care as nationals. A Control Yuan (CY) investigation found that there are 12,498 migrant fishers in Taiwan, or 9,789 excluding those still waiting to cross the border or who have gone missing. Yet, only 5,000 of these 9,789 have labor insurance coverage (51.07%), a violation of the Labor Insurance Act and in contravention of Article 9 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which recognizes “the right of everyone to social security.” The Ministry of Labor (MOL) has obviously been negligent in actively handling this case, breaching the rights of these migrant fishers. The CY’s Committee on Financial and Economic Affairs passed an investigation report in April 2020 and proposed corrective measures to the MOL.
Migrant fishers are not restricted to living on fishing vessels when they dock, and since 2018 the MOL has applied the “Foreign Worker’s Care Service Plan” to them. However, the living conditions on board fishing vessels have been relatively basic, and thus even though inspections were approved by the competent authority and some progress was made in a limited time, these conditions remain inappropriately poor in the eyes of the general public. CY Members requested the MOL and the Fisheries Agency, Council of Agriculture, to consider adequate standards of living a fundamental human right and to research and learn from other countries to facilitate the provision of better living conditions for migrant fishers on land.

CY Members also found that some 70% of migrant fishers work on board fishing vessels under 50 tons or powered sampans. These vessels have relatively small hold capacities and are not generally equipped with showers, so workers who live on them can only shower on deck or take cold showers in public bathrooms. The Fisheries Agency subsidized Yilan Fishermen’s Association to build shower facilities in 2018 and passed out shower cards for regulatory purposes. However, the facilities were far from the harbor, so migrant fishers and fishing boat owners were unaware of them or mistook them as a for-profit service. As a result, usage was low to the extent that less than 10% of all fishing vessels applied for shower cards. CY Members considers the government responsible for protecting the fundamental human rights of migrant fishers and safeguarding their human dignity and right to privacy. The Agency of Fisheries and the Yilan County Government should advocate for measures and facilities to be provided to migrant fishers, and take the opinions of both migrant fishers and fishing boat owners into account when evaluating locations and subsidies.