Indonesia will continue to send migrant workers to man Taiwanese fishing vessels, according to statements made by an Indonesian official responsible for migrant affairs; the Ministry of Labor offered confirmation in a press release yesterday.
Local media had reported yesterday that Indonesia ceased the sending of migrant fishermen and crewmen after March 16.
Agency for the Placement and Protection of Indonesian Migrant Workers (APPIMW) Deputy Director Agusdin Subiantoro said that Indonesia would resume the sending of migrants to Taiwan. Subiantoro added that only placement agencies that have provided documents certified by Taiwan's Ministry of Transportation and Communications before June would be used.
Several placement agencies in Taiwan were reported to have received notice from a nongovernmental agency that the Indonesian government would stop sending fishermen to work in Taiwan in order to promote occupational safety. The notice indicated that the policy would be effective until further notice. The Ministry of Labor now believes this to have been an internal memo issued by the Indonesian government.
Officials from the Council of Agriculture (COA) stated that they have yet to receive official documents from the Indonesian authorities on the policy, but speculate that it may signal Indonesian discontent on migration-related issues. Taiwan is currently negotiating with Vietnam for an alternative source of labour after it froze the hiring of migrants due to a high frequency of runways. Replacements from Myanmar and Thailand were also said to be under consideration.
Meanwhile Wang Han-yuan, the head of the consular affairs division of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in Indonesia, indicated that the APPIMW was forced to retract earlier policies due to criticism received from migrant-worker placement agencies. TECO says it continues to process applications for incoming migrant fishermen regularly.
The Indonesian government announced in February 2015 that it plans to stop sending domestic and migrant workers overseas by 2017. The policy is aimed at safeguarding migrant safety and decreasing discrimination. According to statements from the Indonesian Labor Ministry the process would also include evaluating the countries to which migrants are sent.
According to International Labour Organisation (ILO) figures, 4.3 million documented Indonesian migrants currently work overseas. Indonesian migrants account for a large portion of offshore fishing operations around Taiwan, including 8,843 out of a total of 10,385 employed migrants, according to Ministry of Labor statistics.
Foreign Migrants Not Qualified for Minimum Wage: TSU
Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) Legislator Yeh Chin-ling stated that foreign migrants should not be included in the minimum wage in a legislative report on wage income policy.
"We cannot take our higher standards of living and wages and apply it to those foreign workers," Yeh said. Mirroring earlier controversial remarks made by Taipei City Mayor Ko Wen-je, Yeh added that: "If Taiwan imports foreign labour, it needs to proactively diversify (that labour)."
As of February 2015, Taiwan employs approximately 233,000 Indonesian workers, nearly 42 per cent of all foreign workers currently on the island.