8 December 2010
Migrant Workers: U.S. vs. Taiwan
In this essay I will be discussing the similarities and differences of migrant workers, between the two countries: U.S. & Taiwan. Although these two countries are completely different they do have more similarities than you think. The term “migrant worker” is used to refer to individuals who enter the United States or another country legally or illegally as temporary or seasonal workers, typically in agriculture such as farmers, or in semi-skilled or unskilled industries such as house maids or waiters. In both the U.S. and Taiwan a maid can be a common role.
I will start off by telling you about the working conditions of the migrant workers in the United States. We obviously know that migrant agricultural workers experience the lowest incomes, poorest working conditions, and fewest benefits from social services in the United States. Their weekly earnings are the lowest of all occupational sectors except employees in private households and other nonproductive services. Because they average only twenty-four weeks of employment per year, they have the lowest annual earnings. During the 1990s, their absolute earnings declined, in contrast to all other occupational categories. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the average yearly earnings of migrant farm workers were approximately 40 percent of the official poverty rate.
Migrant workers are employed in the most dangerous of all occupational categories except mining, and their housing and health conditions are the poorest of all occupational groups. Since schooling for migrant children is not consistent, migrant workers have extremely low levels of education. Despite years of efforts by advocates, legislation involving migrant housing, health, education, and employment conditions is still inadequate. Migrant workers suffer extraordinarily poor health conditions and physical problems stemming from their migratory status and weak political influence. Furthermore, the physical conditions of immigrant workers generally deteriorate the longer they remain in the United States.
As for Taiwan and its working conditions, Taiwan's economic growth over the past 50 years has been bolstered by a diversified and skilled workforce of about 9.7 million people. Approximately 6.6 million of these are employees, while the rest are either self-employed or have some other working status. The unemployment rate in 2000 was at a very low 3 percent.
One of the most important labor laws in Taiwan is the 1984 Labor Standards Law. It supplies the basic legal definitions of worker, employer, wages, and contract, and outlines the rights and obligations of workers and employers. The law prescribes the minimum requirements for labor contracts, and makes provisions for working hours, work leave, and the employment of women and children. Likewise, the law offers protections against unreasonable work hours and forced labor, and grants workers the right to receive compensation for occupational injuries and layoffs, as well as a retirement pension.
I consider myself to be very fortunate to live in America. There are people all around the world who wish they could live in the United States and have the same rights as we do. It’s at a very young and tender age that these young people are put into the fields or factories to do this hard labor that most of us would not do. No one knows how many children labor in the fields of the United States and estimates vary widely. The General Accounting Office estimates that there are 300,000 fifteen to seventeen year old young people working in agriculture, while acknowledging that is probably a low estimate. The United Farm Workers Union estimates the figure at about 800,000. Not to mention that these children will engage in hazardous work at the age of sixteen in agriculture. In other occupations, the minimum age for hazardous work is eighteen. The...