Electronics groups including Japan’s Canon and Innolux, a subsidiary of Apple supplier Foxconn, are accused of detaining Taiwanese migrant workers as the Covid-19 outbreak hits the country’s technology industry.

These allegations highlight the labor practices used to maintain Taiwan’s status as a technology-manufacturing powerhouse. The country is the key to the chip industry-this position has become even more important as the world faces a semiconductor contraction.

According to internal documents and employee communications seen by the Financial Times, these companies, including Siliconware Precision Industries (SPIL), a subsidiary of ASE, the world’s largest chip packaging and testing company, have banned migrant workers from leaving their dormitories. Except for work.

Taiwan’s exports are booming due to strong global demand for chips, servers, laptops, and other equipment needed to work from home. However, the country has been struggling with the first major expansion in recent weeks. Coronavirus infection outbreak. Taiwanese Economic Growth Nearly 9% in the first quarter.

Lennon Wong, an activist for the People’s Service Association, said: “It’s become extremely common for employers to lock up migrant workers.” A survey conducted by a labor rights organization found that 60% of migrant workers were caught in their free time. Banned to go out, twice as much as before records in Taiwan The first major community outbreak Mid-May.

Soldiers in protective clothing disinfect the subway station.Taiwan has been battling the first large-scale outbreak of coronavirus infection in recent weeks © Reuters

As of April, Taiwan has 713,000 migrant workers, mainly from the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia, accounting for 8% of the country’s labor force. More than 60% of people work in factories, including those that dominate the global electronic component supply chain.

“Taiwan’s discrimination against migrant workers is systemic, but the pandemic has made the situation worse,” Huang said.

The law requires employers who provide accommodation and food for migrant workers, most of which outsource these services to brokers who try to reduce costs as much as possible. On average, 4 to 12 workers share a room.

Under pressure from health authorities to prevent further factory gatherings, employers have imposed new restrictions in the past two weeks that exceed any regulations issued by the central government.

Japanese optical products company Canon restricted migrant workers to dormitories when they were off work at the Taichung factory, and even warned them not to chat. “Except for commuting, don’t leave the dormitory,” Canon said in an internal blog.It added: “Group conversations are not allowed in the dormitory [sic]. “

Canon admits that the ordinance may be too strict. “We can’t deny that due to the excessive focus on the safety of employees and the community, the content and expressions we use are excessive in some parts. In response to issues raised inside and outside the company, we have revised the content on June 18 based on government recommendations. “The company said in a statement to the Financial Times.

Innolux’s migrant workers received a message on June 13th: “Please note that since yesterday, all of you have been blocked for 30 days. You can’t go out anymore. Everyone try to stay in the dormitory and follow the rules of Innolux. Everything is for everyone’s safety! [sic]. “

Innolux stated that the message was sent by the broker who operated the dormitory because of “miscommunication” between the broker and the company.

In June, ASE and its SPIL affiliates required migrant workers living in other places to return to their dormitories, and then they were prohibited from leaving the dormitories except for work. According to two workers from ASE and SPIL, migrant workers must use an electronic pass to sign in to the dormitory within one hour after the end of the shift. Those who are late will be locked up for interrogation.

ASE stated that it has “developed a policy that requires our migrant workers to follow a’point-to-point’ timetable. For example, from dormitory to work and vice versa. This is to ensure that they stay in the dormitory/residence as much as possible after get off work, and avoid irregular Necessary travel and group gatherings.”

SPIL stated that the epidemic prevention measures in its dormitories follow the guidance of Taiwan’s health authorities. “The company respects the choice of migrant workers whether to return to the dormitory and encourages them to reduce going out.

However, the instructions conveyed to employees on June 5 were: “In order to protect the health of all employees, the company has banned all employees from going out. […] The company and the dormitory check the time from the factory to the dormitory every day. “

After a cluster of infections occurred in several electronics factories in Miaoli County, western Taiwan, the head of the local government, Xu Yaochang, announced on June 7 that migrant workers in the county were prohibited from leaving the factories and dormitories. These restrictions are much stricter than the soft blockade imposed on ordinary people.

This move was criticized by Zeng Wenxue, a member of the Miaoli Legislative Council. “The reason why migrant workers face a higher risk of infection is that they have to live in crowded dormitories,” he said. “We should not target people’s nationalities, but should solve real problems.”

No central government official publicly opposed restrictions on foreign workers. In areas with technology factories, no other local government has introduced restrictions like Miaoli.

Some employers are adopting intimidation strategies. “If you are infected with Covid-19, if you die, your body will be cremated in Taiwan immediately, your family will not even be able to see your body, and your family finances will be disconnected immediately,” said Alibaba, a Taiwanese. Labor brokers, in the message sent to migrant workers. “If you do not die, you will be responsible for all quarantine expenses, medical expenses and other people who have been in contact with you during the quarantine period.”

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