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Here’s the latest from our Helen Davidson in Taipei:
A major manufacturer in Taiwan is forcing some migrant workers out of private homes and back into shared accommodation at the height of the island’s worst Covid-19 outbreak since the pandemic began, drawing accusations of discrimination and double standards.
ASE, a semiconductor manufacturer, told its workers in the Taoyuan district of Chungli, about 50km (30 miles from the capital, Taipei, that those who live independently in private rentals, must “move back to their dormitories immediately”, or be given “a major demerit”. Three such demerits are punishable by dismissal, the notice says.
It stipulates residents will be banned from leaving the dorms except to go straight to and from work. Those who are late face being locked out and penalised. The workers cannot do their own shopping or have visitors. Such restrictions do not apply to the broader Taiwanese community.
Taiwan has recorded more than 12,000 local cases and 360 deaths since mid-April. Hundreds of cases have been detected at four factories in Miaoli county, mostly among migrant workers and linked to crowded dormitory conditions.
Central government orders require that the number of people per room in migrant worker accommodation be significantly reduced to cut the threat of infection among residents but offer no further detail, such as a maximum number per room.
Footage seen by the Guardian purported to be of one of the ASE workers’ dorm rooms show rows of bunk beds on each side of the narrow room, with sheets hung around the edges to give occupants some privacy. Residents said they share bathroom facilities, sometimes with workers on different shifts or workers from other companies. Many migrant workers opt to live in private homes in which one or two people share a room.
An ASE spokeswoman confirmed both the instruction to return, and the demerits for their 3,000 migrant employees, but defended the policy.
Read more of Helen Davidson’s report from Taipei here: Taiwan factory forces migrant workers back into dormitories amid Covid outbreak