Migrant Workers Should Get the Day-Off
Dwitta Vita is the winner of 2015 Taiwan Literature Award for Migrants. He points out that there are still a relatively significant amount of migrant workers who don’t get regular day-offs. It is urgent that they’re able to rest like decent workers.
Migrant Workers Should Get the Day-OffBy Dwiita Vita
Editors' Note: This article is translated from an op-ed from Opinion@CommonWealth
You can't have a holiday! You can't rest in the afternoon! And you can't pray in our home! That's some bans that my employer said when I arrived at their house.
These statements contradicted with an agreement work which was signed by us, Indonesian agency and Taiwan agency before we go to the Taiwan. Taiwan agency agreed with my employer statements. As a worker who didn’t understand the world of work in Taiwan and was never given the chance to make a pleading, I could only say ‘Yes’. I think this is one of many realistic problems that many migrant workers are facing, along with other important issues which I can’t elaborate one by one in this article.
I was confused when I heard there were migrant workers who were willing to run or terminate their contracts just because they didn’t get the regular day-off. Now I realize it’s very important to get the day-off.
The day-off is a right for every migrant worker in accordance with the foreign labor law.
However, in the reality not all of the migrant workers get regular day-off. Among the many rights that Taiwan’s labour organizations fight for migrant workers, religious freedom and the right to get regular day-offs are the most significant. More importantly, it’s crucial for the Indonesian government to realize that it has to implement and practice laws instead of merely establishing regulations. If the rules are clearly recognized by both parties (Employer and Worker), it will be possible for them to create a favorable atmosphere and neither side would feel harmed. In addition, the agencies shouldn’t just scoop up profits from the workers; they need to fight for the workers’ rights as well. The situation of the migrant workers at the informal sector is the toughest. They rarely have the chance to interact with the outside world. For them, getting a day-off once a month is already a blessing.
Image: Sleven Chang
Besides, taking a day-off is not only relaxing for the body. It can also serve as a treatment for the soul, sparing from the stress caused by thick activity. The day-off for migrant workers will be beneficial if filled with positive activities such as joining organizations for literary, humanitarian or religion purposes etc, or attending useful events like productive training, which are held by the Indonesian worker community. The day-off will be a positive boomerang for us to swing back when filled by negative things.
For those of us who don’t get the regular day-off should not be ever pessimistic. We shall fill days with positive activities that can be useful for the future. They can be reading to enrich the knowledge, writing to release boredom, or joining a positive online community. Keep praying and be patient. Have faith that despite of lacking regular day-off, we can be useful and fulfill ourselves and others in the near future.
Always remember that becoming a foreigner worker in other country isn't an easily task. Success can’t be reached instantly. As formal workers who work abroad, while expecting a big salary, we must be ready to face high risks. Sometimes, even our lives can be at stake.
Our will must be firm from the very moment we left motherland to our arrival in Taiwan. ‘I come and I must prevail’ is the spirit we all must hold on to in order to realize our dreams. Lastly, don’t neglect the fact that we need to protect ourselves. We should remember the essential information such as important address and telephone number, which will keep us safe.
Edited By Shawn Chou
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