★ US Country Reports on Human
released at 2021-3-30
Forced labor occurred primarily in sectors
reliant on migrant workers including domestic services, fishing, farming,
manufacturing, meat processing, and construction. Some labor brokers charged
foreign workers exorbitant recruitment fees and used debts incurred from these
fees in the source country as tools of coercion to subject the workers to debt
bondage. Migrant fishermen reported
senior crewmembers employ coercive tactics such as threats of physical violence,
beatings, withholding of food and water, retention of identity documents, wage
deductions, and noncontractual compulsory sharing of vessel operational costs to
retain their labor. These abuses were particularly prevalent in Taiwan’s large
distant-waters fishing fleet, which operated without adequate oversight.
Foreign workers were often reluctant to report employer abuses for fear the
employer would terminate their contract, subjecting them to possible deportation
and leaving them unable to pay off their debt to recruiters. Foreign
workers generally faced exploitation and incurred significant debt burdens
during the recruitment process due to excessive brokerage fees, guarantee
deposits, and higher charges for flights and accommodations. Brokerage
agencies often required workers to take out loans for “training” and other fees
at local branches of Taiwan banks in their home countries at high interest
rates, leaving them vulnerable to debt bondage. NGOs suggested the authorities
should seek further international cooperation with labor-sending countries,
particularly on oversight of transnational labor brokers. Foreign
fishermen were commonly subjected to mistreatment and poor working conditions.
Domestic labor laws only apply to fishermen working on vessels operating within
Taiwan’s territorial waters. Fishermen working on Taiwan-flagged vessels
operating beyond Taiwan’s territorial waters (Taiwan’s distant-waters fishing
fleet) were not afforded the same labor rights, wages, insurance, and pensions
as those recruited to work within Taiwan’s territorial waters. For example,
regulations only require a minimum monthly wage of $450 for these foreign
fishermen in the distant water fleet, significantly below the domestic minimum
wage. NGOs reported that foreign fishing crews in Taiwan’s distant-waters
fishing fleet generally received wages below the required $450 per month because
of dubious deductions for administrative fees and deposits.
... estimated 35,000 migrant workers are employed in Taiwan’s
distant-waters fishing fleet. The majority of these fishermen are recruited
overseas, mostly from Indonesia and the Philippines. The results suggested
that 24 percent of foreign fishermen suffered violent physical abuse; 92 percent
experienced unlawful wage withholding; 82 percent worked overtime excessively.
There were also reports fishing crew members could face hunger and dehydration
and have been prevented from leaving their vessels or terminating their
National Geographic, 11-25-2020 :
Wildlife crimes and human
rights abuses plague Taiwanese fishing vessels
dolphin catching, shark finning, and physical and verbal abuse ...
assaults, Indonesian worker Supri says, included his being locked in a
freezer when he was still wet from having taken a shower, and being beaten,
sprayed in the face with a hose, and shocked with an electric stun gun.
In a recent report, the
EJF said that abuse of crew members—along with illegal fishing for sharks and
dolphins, among other species—is common in Taiwan’s distant-water fishing fleet,
one of the world’s largest with more than a thousand vessels. China and Taiwan
represent nearly 60 percent of the world’s distant-water fishing vessels.