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Mayor Ko Initiates Immigrant/Migrant Workers Forum

* On the afternoon of April 21, which happened to be Indonesia’s Kartini Day (Heroine Day), the Taipei City Government hosted the Mayor’s Forum with Indonesian Workers and New Immigrants in Taiwan at Wanhua New Immigrants’ Hall.

It was the first time Mayor Ko Wen-je had the opportunity to meet with migrant workers living in Taiwan. More than 60 new immigrants and migrant workers from Indonesia, who are now living in Taipei, expressed their concerns to the mayor on all scales of issues, which ranged from learning Chinese to workers’ personal time off.

The mayor believed that as long as small issues could be resolved, there would be no big issues. He right away ordered the needs and the issues raised by the migrant workers be sent to Taipei City New Immigrant Committee to be addressed, in the hopes that each and every new immigrant and migrant worker living in Taipei would be happier.

Currently, there are nearly 40,000 Indonesian migrant workers and new immigrants living in Taipei City. Mayor Ko has been devoted over the last few years to making Taipei City a Muslim-friendly cosmopolitan city. Some migrant workers mentioned that there are not enough Halal stores, and the mayor immediately ordered the Department of Economic Development, Office of Commerce, and Department of Information and Tourism to reinforce further planning and actions on Halal certifications.

New immigrants suggested that Taipei could host more diverse cultural events, such as Kartini Day, or adding activity spaces for sepak takraw (rattan balls). Mayor Ko immediately assigned the Department of Civil Affairs to follow up on these suggestions. Migrant workers also hoped that there could be a praying space during Muslims’ Lebaran (Eid al-Fitr), and the mayor responded that he would request Deputy Mayor Tsai to negotiate with the Taipei Main Station on this matter.

Some migrant workers also expressed concern over the standards of working conditions. Even though these items are related to central government regulations, the mayor also requested the Department of Labor to set forth Taipei City exclusive migrant workers’ labor contracts to make sure the workers’ rights would be looked after. He also called upon all employers to follow labor contracts when hiring migrant workers and to offer them wages and personal time off that are in accordance with the contracts.

On the other hand, there were some migrant workers who pointed out that the space where they received the “Foreign Workers’ Arrival in Taiwan Laws and Regulation Orientation” when first arriving in Taiwan’s Taoyuan Airport was too small. In response to this, the mayor promptly asked the Department of Labor to go on-site to better understand the situation so they could report to the central government in regards to the concerns of the migrant workers.

The Mayor’s Forum lasted for 2 hours and everyone enjoyed open and dynamic interactions. At the end, Mayor Ko also presented each new immigrant and migrant worker a gift as a gesture to exhibit Taipei City’s friendliness towards and care for the group.