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Taiwan's labor conditions criticized in U.S. human rights report
Central News Agency
2014-02-28 09:11 PM
Taipei, Feb. 28 (CNA) In addition to continued concerns over official corruption in Taiwan, the exploitation of migrant laborers last year ranked among the U.S. State Department's top criticisms of Taiwan, according to its 2013 human rights report released Thursday in Washington. The State Department singled out the treatment of foreign fishermen by their employers and domestic workers by their agents, while also noting that real wages for all of the nation's workers have fallen to lower than 14 years ago as manufacturing businesses continue to move abroad. Violations of legal working hours were common in all sectors, the report said, attributing the problem to the small force of 294 labor inspectors employed by the government. Responding on Friday, Taiwan's newly upgraded Ministry of Labor (formerly the Council of Labor Affairs) highlighted its efforts in vocational training programs and said that it has been working to protect worker's rights and improve local labor conditions. Deputy Minister Chen I-min admitted that wages in Taiwan were "on the low side," but said that his ministry has been helping workers learn new skills to "catch up with the times." Now that it has been upgraded to a full ministry earlier this month, the labor ministry will be able to put more resources into protecting labor rights, he said. Changes include the creation of an Occupational Safety and Health Administration that Chen said will focus on "prevention, inspection, compensation and reconstruction." He also revealed a "work-life balance" plan that the ministry plans to launch this year to encourage employers to improve efficiency by letting workers get more rest rather than putting in more hours. Around 65 percent of workers in Taiwan get two days off each week, according to ministry data, a number which Chen said constitutes "good conditions" in Taiwan's labor market. (By Chen Chih-chung and Elizabeth Hsu)
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