Members of several groups dedicated to migrant workers' rights protested outside the Philippines' representative office in Taipei on Sunday to ask for help in handling labor issues but received a muted response.
During the protest, a Philippine official emerged from the Manila Economic and Cultural Office, getting the protesters' hopes up that the office would answer their appeals.
But the official simply accepted the protesters' petition and returned to the office without making any statements.
The protest was held as the world observed International Migrants Day on Dec. 18.
The Taiwan Chapter of Migrant International said migrant workers from the Philippines contribute a lot to the economic development of their mother country, sending back US$2.7 billion a year from the countries in which they work.
But it said they still face unreasonable working conditions, such as overtime and workloads not provided for in their contracts, and need the support of their government to address the problems.
Wang Ying-dah (???), director of the Service the People Association in Taoyuan, said one problem for Filipino workers in Taiwan is a wage affidavit they sign upon their arrival in the country.
The document often sets a room and board fee different from that shown in their contract with manpower brokers, but because the Philippine government certifies both documents despite the discrepancy, brokers can charge the workers additional fees, Wang said.
Also, though the Philippine government announced in 2006 that fishing workers and domestic helpers employed overseas are exempt from brokerage fees and can get a refund of what they pay, migrants who ask for the refund are often threatened by brokerage companies, Wang said.
The protesters hoped Manila will tackle the problems and put the companies that have threatened Filipino workers on a black list, Wang added.
During Sunday's protest, the migrant workers also asked the representative office to stay open on weekends when they have time off so that they are not forced to have brokers handle their passport matters for an extra fee.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel