OPINION: Taiwan Must Discuss Migrant Worker Safety After Fatal Factory Fires

Taiwan must seriously address unsafe work conditions for migrant workers after its third fatal factory fire in 14 months.

The News Lens
Date: 2019/03/18
By: Brian Hioe

Credit: CNA

The death of three Vietnamese migrant workers in a warehouse fire in early February should remind of the unsafe working conditions which continue to face migrant workers in Taiwan. The fire broke out at a warehouse owned by the Kerry TJ Logistics Company in Taoyuan’s Guanyin District on Feb. 7, killing three. The Kerry TJ Logistics Company is a warehousing and storage company.

The blaze burned for eight hours, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., before the fire was contained. A total of six Vietnamese workers were present when the fire broke out, with three survivors and three deceased. Two were pulled out of the fire by firefighters, with one man later dying from burns and smoke inhalation. The six workers were contractors of a Taiwanese man surnamed Chen. Chen and his employees were working on maintenance for the facility when the fire broke out. According to reports, some of these workers may have been working in Taiwan illegally.

Credit: Taoyuan Fire DepartmentThe Feb. 2019 blaze killed three Vietnamese migrant workers.
Nevertheless, the incident reminds of a May 2018 fire that also broke out in Pingzhen District in Taoyuan, killing two Thai migrant workers and five firefighters in a factory owned by the Chin Poon Industrial Company, which prints circuit boards. The fire also proves the third fatal factory fire in 14 months.

Public outrage after the Chin Poon fire called for better protection for firefighters, seeing as this was the largest loss of life for firefighters in Taiwan in 11 years. Calls also took place for factory dormitories to be relocated so that they are not directly adjacent to factories. Indeed, a workers’ dormitory was illegally located adjacent to the factory that burned down in the Chin Poon fire. As with the frequent blind eye turned to illegal structures in Taiwan, one wonders if the existence of the dorm was known previously by authorities, but there was no action. Public discussion also turned to how firefighters were ill-equipped to fight the fire because they did not know of where dangerous chemicals were located in the factory, or how such chemicals might have led to the fire breaking out.    [FULL  STORY]

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