Gender News in Taiwan
Ministry asked to tackle migrant labor offenses

LAPSE IN OVERSIGHT: The request came after finding faults in the handling of 21 front companies that charged workers hefty fees and gave them unauthorized jobs

Staff Writer, with CNA

The Control Yuan has ordered the Ministry of Labor to improve its vetting and monitoring mechanisms after concluding that the ministry had failed to act effectively in a case involving 91 migrant workers being deceived and forced to work for lower pay in Taiwan.

The top government watchdog on Wednesday approved a corrective measure request to be issued to the ministry after reviewing a report produced by Control Yuan members Wang Mei-yu (王美玉) and Wang Yu-ling (王幼玲), who both investigated the case based on government records and indictments by prosecutors.

The report said that Diao Yu-hong (刁予弘), who is a representative of Taichung-based Hong Yu Manpower Agency Co, and three other people since July 2017 established 21 companies and four factories as fronts to create a nonexistent demand for migrant workers.

After being granted permission from the ministry and other agencies, Diao, a Vietnamese woman who became a naturalized Taiwanese citizen, brought Vietnamese migrant workers to Taiwan, and recruited migrant workers already in Taiwan for the front companies and factories, the report said.

Hong Yu made the migrant workers, who had originally been recruited for manufacturing jobs, work at construction sites instead, while docking their wages, the report said.

The workers were unable to refuse the agency because of language barriers as well as high brokerage fees that were owed by them to the agency, the report said.

At a media conference on Thursday, Wang Mei-yu said that while Hong Yu had demanded a monthly wage from the construction companies of NT$36,000 to NT$42,000 (US$1,295 to US$1,511) for each worker, it eventually offered only the minimum wage of NT$23,800.

Hong Yu then charged the migrant workers several fees, resulting in them receiving less than NT$20,000 each month in pay, she added.

As many as 91 migrant workers were forced to work at construction sites, Wang Yu-ling said.

At the same time, Diao and the others made a profit of approximately NT$25 million over more than two years until the case was exposed, the report said.

Prosecutors in Taichung in January indicted Diao and the three alleged accomplices on several charges, including forging documents and human trafficking.

Wang Mei-yu said that government agencies had been unaware of the case, even before the ministry received a tip-off in September 2019 that showed there were “serious systematic flaws” among the agencies in their vetting and monitoring duties.

In particular, the ministry had approved the applications of all but one of the front companies and factories for a permit to bring in migrant workers, without ensuring that those corporations had been engaged in manufacturing products, the report said.

Following the tip-off, the ministry did not take steps to probe the case until December 2019, Wang Mei-yu said, showing that it paid little regard to the interests and rights of the whistle-blower and the migrant workers.

The report also named the Industrial Development Bureau at the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Taichung City Government and other agencies for shortcomings in the case, and called on them to make improvements to prevent similar situations from occurring.

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