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Foreign laborers need to be shown a little friendliness

Many families in Taiwan have hired migrant workers to look after their elderly or disabled members. Many factories and construction projects rely on foreign labor.

But what has Taiwan done to look after or repay these foreigners who are far away from home making a living in a place that never really accepts them?

We are not just talking about paying them the salaries that they deserve. Social relationships and human rights are much more than just an exchange between work hours and wages.

The Taipei Railway Station has recently made a move mainly targeting foreign workers.

It has blocked off large parts of its huge central hall, designating them as off limits to “assemblies.”

The move was prompted by complaints that hundreds of foreign workers would gather in the hall during holidays and weekends. As if having a picnic, they would sit down on the floor, sing, eat and chat, making it difficult for travelers to move around the station.

It seems reasonable to maintain order and ease traffic at the train station, but it leaves one major question unanswered: where are these foreigners supposed to go then?

The Taipei Railway Station is in probably the busiest part of the capital city. Almost all public transportation lines converge there, and it is a natural and convenient place for these foreign workers to get together.

The government, businesses, trade unions and ordinary people have been arguing whether Taiwan should open its doors wider to foreign workers.

Businesses have been urging the government to stop giving foreign workers the minimum wage protection to lower production costs. They say lowering labor costs would attract Taiwanese firms to move their production lines back to Taiwan.

In all of these arguments and discussions, foreign workers are seen as a source of labor or dehumanized tools for boosting Taiwan's economy. They have never been considered as living human beings who would want to have a nice picnic during holidays.

Our foreign labor policy sees the economic side, rather than the human side. It's about managing a labor force, rather than accommodating these workers' needs. They are here to help, not to receive help.

September 15, 2012    labattrdc59@
If we don't know how to treat the least among us as fellow Human Beings, then what right have we to think of ourselves as Human. Our weakest link shows us who we really are. The things we hide define us.
September 16, 2012    chenjohn2@
Completely agree with you. Should show our gratitude to these foreign workers for contributing to the development and well-being of Taiwan. In Hong Kong there was a similar problem, with the foreign domestics swirling around Central each holiday. And it was HSBC who stepped forward (voluntarily or otherwise); the Bank opened its big ground-floor square to the workers during the holidays. This plus the passage way into the subway provided a fun place for the domestics. If I am not mistaken Ma Ying-jeou also found a place for the workers when Taipei mayor. Can he now find something near Taipei Station for them?
September 17, 2012    jiminy_cricket168@
I am also a foreigner here in Taiwan and maybe a lot of these workers sitting on the floor, singing, chatting and eating at the railway station may be from my country. I totally oppose to what they are doing. The central hall of the railway station is not a place for that. Surely it is a good meeting place but I wish they would go to another place to sit on a chair, have lunch, chat and sing. What they are doing will not improve the image of the country where they come from... It is right for the railway station to ban assemblies where they eat and sit on the floor. However, it is also sad that the migrant workers are treated as second class citizens. Maybe it would be good if the government can provide a place where they can enjoy chatting with their fellow countrymen. Some parks and activity centers should be open to these migrant workers so they can enjoy their weekends. Again, meeting your friends at the central hall is ok but not sitting on the floor, singing and eating.
September 17, 2012    CURTISAKBAR@
WHAT A LOAD OF BOLLOCKS! ALL THIS BECAUSE THE TRA SAID, HANG OUT SOMEWHERE ELSE! THERE IS A HUGE UNDERGROUND MALL WITH FOUNTAINS AND LARGE SPACES JUST DOWN THE STAIRS, SO THERE IS PLENTY OF OTHER PLACES LOCALLY FOR THEM TO GO. AS FOR CHINESE BEING FOREIGNER FRIENDLY, THAT’S A JOKE! IT’S RARE THAT YOU DONT GET PEOPLE SAYING 'FOREIGNER, FOREIGNER' WHEN YOU PASS. A TYPICAL RACIST ACTION ESPECIALLY FROM THE CHINESE CONSIDERING THAT THEY ARE FOREIGNERS TO TAIWAN AS WELL.
September 20, 2012    miller.henry641@
I never cease to be amazed by the overt racism displayed by the Taiwanese.
But then I think..."God Bless 'em in their ignorance...they just don't know any better."
September 25, 2012    anncharmaine@
"It seems reasonable to maintain order and ease traffic at the train station, but it leaves one major question unanswered: where are these foreigners supposed to go then?"
One major answer: at the park. The park is a gathering place for people and there are lots of park in Taipei.

Foreigner nor local shouldn't hold a 'picnic' in the train station hall because as mentioned, it makes it difficult for travelers to move around. Let us all be courteous. It is one thing I admire here in Taiwan. People would stay on one side - right - of the escalator to let those people in a hurry use the other side - left - and that is what I call being courteous!
September 26, 2012    therines@
So what the editorial is trying to say is, the Taiwan Government should at least provide a gathering place for our foreign workers. I definitely agree, if the Taiwanese in general perceived them as mere helpers and laborers or perhaps even lower class, let them be, it only shows how uneducated , how un-classy, how ungrateful they are. I am thankful for those who think otherwise. They have attained the highest form of being human in this world!
September 27, 2012    vinegar_joe@
Taiwan Touch Your Heart"......great job you're doing. Treat foreigners like garbage and yet expect us to support you internationally. You people just don't get it, do you?
September 28, 2012    viaboston@
Taiwan is a racist country there is no way around this fact...returning to the norm??? Like this article says...the norm would be that these workers need some place to congregate on the ONE day off they have a week, because at home they are treated like slaves obviously...that is the norm and this has been going on like this for a long time, shame on Taipei Railway Station and shame on the Taiwanese for condoning this...the norm is that people should be allowed to gather whenever and wherever they want if they are not hurting anyone.
September 29, 2012    andgray@
So, Taiwan wants to build its economy on mainly on cheap labor! That sounds like the Chinese! Taiwan has not moved from Master slave work relations and may be very technologically developed, but it is morally and socially underdeveloped. They need to learn from the happy, friendly and democratic foreign workers. Or they can just get their Chinese friends to come over and work here instead.
September 30, 2012    mary_chua@
There is freedom of assembly in Taiwan. Only they must find an appropriate place to gather together. Taipei Train station is an important pride of Taipei City. The government has been too lax to let people make it a picnic ground.
October 6, 2012    jilinliang@
Taipei Main Station is not a picnic ground. If these foreign workers need to meet or assemble, they should do it parks not train stations.
October 7, 2012    mary_chua@
Blue collar workers in any part of the world will always be looked down upon, never dignified or glorified. This applies to both local and foreign blue collar workers. We exist because there is a demand for our skills and we are working for the convenience of the employers. We are paid according to government imposed salary and we don't expect too much from employers. Example: treating you like family etc. We do our jobs RIGHT don't get too PERSONAL.
October 7, 2012    Xenophobiaj@
jilinliang@ wrote:
Taipei Main Station is not a picnic ground. If these foreign workers need to meet or assemble, they should do it parks not train stations.
Taiwanese people prohibits them to stay in the park, friendly and nice huh, one day Taiwanese will also become tailao working in another country to earn, you all will know the same feeling, good luck to Taiwan.
October 7, 2012    blairjames@
How about a community centre located beside a park in case it rains? If you're going to allow foreigners to work in your country, you need to treat them well. Otherwise, stop complaining and do all the work yourself. Those are really the only two options.
October 8, 2012    ya.ya90@
jilinliang@ wrote:
Taipei Main Station is not a picnic ground. If these foreign workers need to meet or assemble, they should do it parks not train stations.
And then as soon as they are going to gather in park people like you will say that they are noisy and disgusting so they shouldn’t t be allowed to spoil your day. Or maybe in group of 5 maximum, or between 2 and 4 o’clock only, something like that…come on!! You enjoy very cheap labor in difficult conditions, let them enjoy at least one day of freedom a week. I won t even ask you to show some understanding, it’s useless. But keep in mind, they are human, like...you??
October 11, 2012    supotpinoy@
You apply for work visa, then you must work. Next time, apply for tourist visa, and nobody care if you do anything, anywhere, anytime with anybody. Go back to where you come from if you still complain because we're all fed up on your illegal assembly and public disturbances....
October 15, 2012    edrulyn@
supotpinoy@
you really are a bigot.
October 18, 2012    supotpinoy@
edrulyn@ wrote:
supotpinoy@
you really are a bigot.
I am tellin' the FACT...They (FW) will bite you after you fed them.
October 21, 2012    bmarymaculate@
Yeah @ supotpinoy....ur soul is already waiting for u in HELL!!!
October 26, 2012    supotpinoy@
edrulyn@ wrote:
supotpinoy@
you really are a bigot.
Thanks...at least I'm honest!!!
October 29, 2012    joeredz03@
Why so mean? They only occupy that space on Sunday....why not be tolerant like Hong Kong and Singapore where foreign workers can gather in central and orchard road.....
October 29, 2012    supotpinoy@
bmarymaculate@ wrote:
Yeah @ supotpinoy....ur soul is already waiting for u in HELL!!!
HELL is in Philippines, where corrupt government officials, pimps, thieves are everywhere...
November 1, 2012    johnny.brian@
Occupy Taipei Train Station? Why not...
November 11, 2012    billparkhurst@
The point that has failed to be heard in this discussion is the simple fact that the train is a way for people to travel to a given spot and socialize on their off time.

If parks were built near the train stations then of course people would migrate to them.

Foreign workers need to socialize with their countrymen. Taiwan needs to appreciate this simple fact.
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