The Fisheries Agency Acts proactively to Enhance Rights and Benefits for Foreign Fishing Crews
With regard to the demonstration held by Foreign Fishing Crew Human Rights Protection Union (外籍漁工人權保障聯盟) today (May 17) on Ketagalan Avenue requesting enhancing the rights and benefits of foreign fishing crews, the Fisheries Agency (FA) replied that the Anti Traffic in Persons Coordination Task Force (Anti-TIP Task Force) and Committee for the Promotion of Human Rights have been established under the Executive Yuan. Furthermore, under the Anti-TIP Task Force, the Working Group on the Rights and Benefits of Foreign Crew Members Employed Overseas has been also established. The Task Forces and Working Groups had convened numerous meetings to facilitate improvements on the rights and benefits of foreign fishing crews. The “Regulations on the Authorization and Management of Overseas Employment of Foreign Crew Members” stipulated under the authorization of Distant Water Fisheries Act had also entered into effect on January 20 last year (2017) and made substantial progress on safeguarding the rights and benefits for foreign crews on distant water fishing vessels.
Overseas crew members are employed in accordance with the mechanism of the international labor market
The FA indicates, the principle of “overseas employment, operation, and repatriation” is adopted due to the nature that Taiwanese distant fishing vessels conduct fishing activities in distant fishing grounds for a long period of time, and usually employ foreign crew members at foreign ports. Therefore, the wage of these employed crew members is governed by the mechanism of the international labor market in principle. The wage and other working conditions of the crew members employed overseas might not be the same as the domestically employed foreign labor, to whom Labor Standards Act is applied, however, the current minimum wage stipulated in the aforementioned Regulation (USD$450/month) is above the international level of USD$300 per month. It will be subject to a continued review process to enhance the rights and benefits for foreign crew members with a view to achieving equivalent treatment as the domestically employed foreign labors.
Mechanism has been established to safeguard the basic rights for foreign fishing crews
As pointed out by the FA, the Regulations have included provisions in safeguarding the rights, such as the increased wage and specified working hours. Main requirements include:
1.Minimum monthly wage is set as USD$450 and shall be paid directly to the crew member in cash or into the bank account designated by the crew member.
2.Minimum daily rest time is set as 10 hours, and at least 4 days off per month is required. The vessel operator shall respect the need of the foreign crew member for religious holidays.
3.The foreign crew member shall have the accident, medical and life insurance, and the insured amount of the life insurance shall not be less than NTD$1,000,000. When a crew member is injured or sick during carrying out the duties, the vessel operator (master) shall arrange immediate medical treatment and shall pay the medical fees and other related expenses
4.The vessel operator shall cover the transportation costs of the round trip from the home country of the foreign crew member(s) to the port of embarkation and repatriation.
The FA also requires that the vessel operators should provide easily accessible channel for complaint filing. The complaint filing and consultant hotline for labors has also been established for the crew members on distant water fishing vessels (1955, for domestic calls, or +886-2-8073-3141 for international calls). Meanwhile, relevant personnel have been assigned to foreign and domestic ports since 2017 to interview foreign crew members with questionnaires and survey to verify whether the fisheries operators and employment agents comply with relevant provisions. Education leaflets are made and delivered to advocate crew members’ rights. In addition, the FA had collaborated with the Ministry of Labors to conduct vessel inspections on the distant water fishing vessel berthed at domestic ports. If any violations is detected, the FA will assist the crew members in retrieving their lawful benefits from the vessel operator and take punitive actions accordingly.
In addition, if any suspected violation of the “Human Trafficking Prevention Act” is found, the case will be referred to the judicial authority for investigation and due punishment, whether the vessel is flying our flag or flying foreign flag but invested and operated by our nationals.
Continued reviewing and improving process for regulations will be carried out to ensure the rights and benefits for foreign crew members are improved.
The FA further indicated that the new regulations have entered into effect for more than one year, and the relevant management measures are implemented in a progressive manner. The FA is committed to continuing strengthening the inspection mechanism, arranging leisure activities for foreign crew members, and promoting rights and benefits of foreign crews as well as the partnership nature of the employment relationship. It also invites the public that care for the foreign crew members employed overseas to participate in the continued reviewing process on relevant regulations so as to make meaningful improvements for the protection of foreign crew members’ rights and benefits.
Contact: Deputy Director, Lin Kuo-Ping