圖片來源:Shutterstock

(Sherry曾在台灣當過4年的看護,目前則在桃園市群眾協會庇護中心工作,協助她的菲律賓同鄉。過去2年,他們已經協助了上百個移工案子,其中有許多都是家務工。這些移工受到體制不善對待,也飽受仲介的施壓。面臨漫長的工作媒合,他們已經協助了大多數的移工轉換新雇主,但讓人感慨的是,儘管許多國內外團體為移工權益發聲,這個體制的改變可能還是如蝸牛前進一樣,遲鈍又緩慢。)

12月的某一天,我難受地發現,今天又多了一件移工需要被幫助的案子。

事發當天早晨,被照顧者的兒子要求看護R陪阿嬤去菜市場,但R因沒聽懂而沒有回應及行動。當晚,雇主兒子突然發怒並對她咆哮,R於是走進阿公休息的房間,避開他的怒氣,沒想到對方卻跟著她進房間,門板被撞得大聲作響。當下,R的腦袋一團亂,她不知道該怎麼反應,該先照顧阿公?回應雇主兒子的怒氣?還是應該先保護自己,避免被施暴的可能?

因為她太害怕,於是便拿著自己的包包走到房外。出去後不久,她想到每天晚上7點她應該要協助阿公躺到床上,於是又走回來。雇主兒子繼續對她大吼,並告訴她,如果她想要,現在就可以馬上離開。她見到掛心的阿公已經被抬到床上,便決定離開那間屋子。

在寒冷的街道上

事情爆發的當下,R想到打電話向1955報案。她總共打了2次。第一次是她與雇主兒子發生衝突後離開房子時,第二次是她終於決定離開時。然而,離開雇主家後她沒有地方可以待,馬尼拉經濟文化辦事處勞工中心(以下簡稱菲辦)也早已下班,她只好到台北車站忍受這個寒冷的夜晚。

隔天早上,她前往菲辦說明自己的情況。這名工人是被直接聘雇的,但在了解情況之後,菲辦卻直接打電話給雇主,並不斷勸她回到雇主家。R當時非常困惑,因為新北市勞工局其實已經跟她談好,說她可以接受庇護,所以她不知道自己應該何去何從。

故事到這裡,我懷疑的是,既存的體制已經提供移工申訴、保護自己權利的管道,為什麼還要她們回去忍受辛苦又危險的處境?難道是因為她不工作,勞動力就會被白白浪費嗎?

事情還沒結束,痛心的事隨之襲來。她發現自己從小到大有如母親般親近的奶奶,在菲律賓老家突然中風,處於危急的情況。她責怪自己,為什麼要把自己在台灣發生的事告訴奶奶?也許這就是害奶奶中風的原因。此時,新北市政府跟菲辦已經和雇主協商好,雇主最後也同意讓這位移工轉出,並說定週末之後,R可以到原雇主家去取回她剩餘的行李。

明明被趕出家門,卻被通報成逃跑移工?

約好取行李這一天,我們來到R雇主的公寓大樓。我、汪姓工作人員和另外兩位來幫忙搬行李的菲律賓移工得到同意進了屋裡,阿嬤允許R去整理她的物品。不久後,阿嬤的女婿到了。我們從勞工局得到的訊息是,雇主已經同意讓這位看護離開,新北市勞工局也早已同意讓看護接受安置了,但此時女婿卻告訴我們:他剛剛向警方報案看護逃跑,警察等等就會來了。

我們大為震驚,試圖跟雇主解釋,門鈴卻同時響起,兩名警察走了進來。汪再繼續為這位看護辯護,警察卻不相信,汪便要他們自己打電話跟新北勞工局確認。其中一名警察打電話時,另外一名員警不斷看著我和另外兩位幫忙搬行李的移工,要求我們拿出居留證或護照。我被激怒了,好像自己被當作罪犯,而我身旁兩個夥伴,其中一人正在顫抖,另外一人幾乎要尿在褲子上。我們交出三人的居留證給警察看,他確認我們的身分都合法,才把居留證還給我們。

這段過程僵持許久,直到警察認知到R真的不是逃跑(失聯移工)才離開。儘管如此,汪和雇主的爭執仍未停下來。不久後,勞工局打給阿嬤的女兒,告訴他們若不撤銷這個不實的逃跑控訴,他們可能會被罰3萬到10萬不等的罰鍰。然而,雇主就是不願意簽署廢止雙方合約及轉出文件,表示除非他們找到新的看護,否則不會簽。這就代表,就算有其他人願意聘雇R,她也必須等到前雇主找到下一個看護,才能開始新的工作。意思就是,我們又有得等了。

當R在我身旁整理行李,我向她解釋,她沒有辦法在這時回家看她心愛的奶奶,此時,我在她眼中看到了痛苦。當我們要踏出這個屋子,女婿不客氣地對我們揮手大罵:出去!出去!並凶狠地瞪著這位看護。我低聲告訴R,忍住,儘快走出這間房子。

離開,就是一個新的開始?

昨天,R知道她中風的阿嬤過世了。也正是昨天,我和許多同鄉人把握難得的假日,共同慶祝著這個充滿意義的12月,我們慶祝著世界人權日、移民工日,還順便慶祝了聖誕節。當大家都很快樂地玩在一起,有一個悲傷的人影卻坐在一旁安靜地哭泣。她是多麼希望,給她幾天就好,她可以回去參加奶奶的葬禮,見心愛的奶奶最後一面。來到庇護中心之前,她也曾在私訊裡懇求我幫助她回家。我只能告訴她當下情況的困難,並向她說我們會盡可能協助她。

為什麼我會說現在回國很困難呢?這是因為體制對移工設下的重重阻礙。雖然她實質上沒有任何雇主,但法律名義上,這位看護還是在原雇主名下,這段雇用關係還是存在的。雖然她並未被登記逃逸身分,也仍登記在原雇主名下,但因為她實際上並沒有在工作,菲辦便不會同意給她海外就業證明(OEC),讓她憑這個證明回到台灣。以上種種原因,使她現在就算正在安置,也不能夠回去菲律賓。除非她回國後真的花了大把的錢,重新申請回台。這個充滿漏洞的制度,讓許多的移工落入如R一樣尷尬的處境。

一個滿懷歧視的體制

很久以來,我都告訴我自己不要再被案件給影響,因為我已經遇過太多太多類似的案件了,這種事情其實並不特殊,然而,我還是不斷在問「為什麼?」要到什麼時候,移工才不會再活在這種不平等的待遇之中?特別是同樣被稱作「勞工」,卻不受到「勞動基準法」保障的家務工們。

這些體制充滿歧視的本質,讓家務工們能夠自由轉換雇主的權利,被前雇主給箝制住,被這個體制給剝奪。你是一個沒有自由的勞工,是被法律默認的「奴隸」,而且這一切還是你簽下合約同意的。

捷運駛入隧道,黑暗降臨車廂,我盯著窗外,看到微弱的光線在閃著,我嘲諷地想,連待在隧道都可以見到一絲光亮,家務工們有辦法在這個窒息的體制中找到一丁點希望嗎?移工們,我們還有很長很長的路要走,還有很大的空間需要繼續奮鬥。

這,就是一名在台移工的真實生活。

(譯者:張馨云、林劭寰。原文發表於作者臉書

原文:

Foreign Caretaker, when will you attain the freedom and rights which are lawfully yours?

Morning of Monday, it is saddening to find out that another case of a caretaker happened.

Throwback...

Thursday afternoon: While the worker was cutting some vegetables, she was asked by the son of her employer to accompany Amah (the real employer of the worker) to buy vegetables in the market. The worker said, “Sir, I can’t understand what you’re saying.” The employer said, “You don’t understand?” and the worker answered, “Yes sir.” Times passed and it seems everything was okay, or so the worker thought. That night, the son of her employer suddenly got furious and shouted at the worker telling her why she did not accompany her mother to buy vegetables. Because the worker cannot endure anymore what the son was saying, she went inside the room where her ward, Agong, was staying. But she was surprised that the son followed her to the room and continued to shout while banging on the door. At that point, the worker did not know what to feel and what to do first. What should the worker do first? Take care of her ward who was bedridden or to comprehend what the son was telling her at that point? Or to ensure her safety because of fear that she would be hurt by the son of her employer? Due to her panic, she was not able to think straight, she grabbed her bag and went out of the house to get some fresh air and calm herself. While she was outside, she remembered that she needs to fix Agong’s bed by 7:00 pm that’s why she decided to go back. Upon her return, the son shouted at her again that if she wants to leave, she can already do so. When she saw that Agong was already in the bed, she didn’t think twice and left. Carrying a small suitcase, she left the house of her employer but made sure that Agong was not left all alone.

Walking on the sidewalk...

The worker only thought of calling 1955 to inform of her situation. The first call was made when she went out to calm herself after the encounter with the son of her employer and the second call was made when she decided to finally leave the house. While she was on the streets, the worker had no place to stay and MECO was already closed because it was already night time. She decided to go to the main station, endured the cold and stayed there the rest of the night. When morning came, the worker went straight to MECO to report her situation. Upon learning what happened, the MECO staff called her employer because no agency can intervene because her case was direct hiring. The MECO staff wanted the worker to go back to her employer suggesting that having work was important and in fact that she is a direct hire. After learning of the whole story, I realized, is this kind of work really such a waste because the worker is directly hired? Why should you endure your working condition at work when such circumstances dictate to you that you have the option to not endure such hardships? Because MECO and New Taipei Labor already had an agreement about her case that she can already be sheltered, the worker is still confused about what was happening.

Blaming herself...

It even got worse when she learned that her beloved grandmother had a stroke. Her grandmother who took care of her while she was young, her grandmother who stood as her own mother is now in a critical condition. She blamed herself why she had to tell her grandmother of what happened to her. While the New Taipei Labor and the MECO Labor Office were negotiating with her employer, they were able to convince the employer to release her and allow her to transfer to another work. It was eventually agreed that the employer will sign her termination paper and they will allow the worker to go back to the house to get the remainder of her things the next Monday.

The day of confrontation...

December 11 Monday: We arrived at the condominium of the employer and found out that the building in the compound were all high-rise. We waited for a few minutes until the guard informed us that we can already go up.

When we are already inside the condo, Amah allowed the worker to get her things. Lennon prepared the papers to be signed by Amah but Amah said that she needs to wait for her son because she cannot read the small letters on the document. And so we had to wait. After a few minutes, Amah’s son in law arrived and Lennon introduced himself and told the son in law that reason why we were there. The son in law told us that they reported the worker as a runaway just that morning. We were surprised because we all thought that everything was already arranged, that they had agreed to release the worker. We were still recovering from the shock and Lennon was arguing with the son in law when the doorbell rang. We saw two policemen entering the house. Lennon then explained to the police who we were and the reason why we were there. At first, the policemen didn’t believe us that’s why Lennon asked them to call the Labor Office. While waiting, the other policeman was looking at the three of us ( myself and 2 OFWs whom I requested to accompany and help us carry the worker’s things) and spoke to me in Mandarin, asking for my ID. I was irked because I felt that they were treating us like criminals. I wasn’t aware that one of my companions was shaking in fear while the other almost peed in his pants, while I was displeased by the arrogant attitude of the policeman and the son in law of the employer. I told my companions to show our IDs to the police and when the police verified that we are legit, he returned our IDs.

The argument with the police lasted for minutes until in the end we were able to make them understand that the worker is not really a runaway, so the police left. However, even if the police already left, the argument between the daughter of the employer and Lennon persisted. After a while, Labor again called up Amah’s daughter explaining to her that they need to retract the report that the worker is a runaway because it is not true. But Amah’s daughter was very indignant. The labor officer informed her that if she will not retract the report, they will have to pay 300,000 to 1,000,000 NT as payment for the misleading report that they did.

To make the story short, the employer will just sign the termination paper only if the worker will have a replacement. For this reason, we again had to wait.

A few minutes after the worker packed her things, she sat beside me and in passing explained to her the situation that there is no chance for her to be home in time to see the wake of her beloved grandmother. I saw the pain in her eyes.

At last, Lennon was able to finish the argumentation with the employer. At that point, only two words came out from the employer, “OUT! OUT!” while looking sharp at the worker. At that point, I told the worker to stand and left the house.

New beginning?

While riding the minibus going to Tamsui MRT, I rested my head at the seat and looked up the sky. The sky was so clear, no signs of a disaster that was yet to come. I reflected on what happened yesterday.

It was only yesterday that the worker learned that her grandmother who had a stroke already passed away. It was also yesterday that we celebrated the Human Rights Day. We had two celebrations on that day, the Migrants’ Day and our Christmas Party. I apologized to the worker that we cannot postpone the celebrations anymore. While almost everyone was happy and enjoying, there was someone in the corner silently grieving and crying as well as hoping that she would be able to go back to the Philippines for just a few days for her to see her beloved grandmother for the last time.

Last time while I was chatting with the worker, she was pleading asking our help for her to go home. I told her that it will be difficult because at present, she has no employer, but I told her that I will try our best until we are able to talk to her employer.

A discriminatory system...

Why did I tell the worker that it will be hard for her to be able to go home to the Philippines? Because the system itself is the reason hindering the worker to go home because she doesn’t have an employer at present. Basically, the worker has still an employer because the latter did not sign the termination paper. Legally speaking, the employment contract between the two of them is still valid, but because she was reported as TNT, she will not be given a re-entry visa by the immigration because the system will show that she was reported as TNT. MECO will also not give her an OEC because she doesn’t have an employer. For these reasons, even though she is at the shelter, there is no chance for her to see her grandmother for the last time. She can go home to the Philippines but she cannot come back here in Taiwan anymore. She can come back only if she would be lucky enough to apply and spend a lot of money. This rotten system has caused the migrant worker this kind of situation.

While we were at the MRT, I was thankful that no one noticed my silence. While inside the MRT, I was in awe of the beauty of Tamsui but that was not what I was really thinking. I also didn’t notice that my stomach was already grumbling of hunger since it was already past 2:00 in the afternoon. My mind was only centered on what I was feeling then. I was asking myself to not become too affected by these kinds of cases because I have encountered a lot of similar cases before. This is not new to people like us. But still, I keep asking, “Why?” “Until when do the migrant workers have to suffer these kinds of unjust treatments?” Especially to those home-based workers who do not have any protection at all. The home-based workers should not be called “workers” because they are not considered as workers and are not part of the Labor Standard Act. For these reasons, you, Caretaker, yes you, you do not have any right to look for a new employer because you were stripped off of this right because of this awful system. Your right to have a new employer lies in the hands of your present boss. You are not considered as a worker in this kind of society because you are owned by your employer. You have become a legal slave because of the contract that you yourself signed.

While in the MRT, I was just staring at the window. I saw that we are about to enter the tunnel and then it was pitch black. I saw small lights flickering and I suddenly thought, the tunnel is a much better place because in spite of the darkness, at least there are flickers of light. But what about the caretaker, can they still see the hope of light in the darkness of their situation now?

Migrant Home-Based Workers, we still have a very long journey to go for you to belong to the Labor Standard Act. The fight is still a long process!!!

Life of a Caretaker.

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