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See You, Lovable Strangers reflects the life of illegal laborers in Taiwan

   The Department of Labor, Taipei City Government, hosted the Labor Gold Award ceremony on November 30, 2017 at Shih Kong Cinema Taipei. This year, the first prize goes to See You, Lovable Strangers that records the real life of the illegal laborers in Taiwan and win a statuette and a prize of 300,000NT, the second prize goes to In Search of MRT Divers with a statuette and a prize of 200,000NT, and the third prize goes to Landscaping that wins a statuette and 100,000NT.

   The host as well as the organizer, the Deputy Director of the Department of Labor, Taipei City Government, Hsu Yu-Hsueh, said that the Labor Gold Award is celebrating its eleventh year and 175 films on labor issues have been collected since its pioneering national endeavors in 2007. All of the three films are extraordinary: See You, Lovable Strangers reflects the life of the illegal laborers escaping to the new land or working without a permit in Taiwan at the forefront, exposing the current issues of the diverse laborers and their identity crisis within society; In Search of MRT Divers presents the painful labor life of those living with occupational diseases and psychological and physical pains at the backdrop of the convenient MRT system; Landscaping depicts the labor reality of the real estate industry and the poignancy and crisis of those involved. All works are exceptional that we encourage active viewing on our website. In the future, we will also promote these films through film festivals or touring exhibitions to let the wonderful labor films shine.

   The Director Lin Cheng-Sheng said on behalf of the jury members in his speech that the Labor Gold Award helps to speak for those of the lower economic classes on their hardship behind the seemingly splendid city development. This time, many directors have chosen to focus on hidden stories and occupational risks of the counter salesladies and real estate salespersons. Most moving of all is Director Juan from Vietnam who pointed out the poor status of the exploited illegal laborers at the bottom of Taiwanese society. I am very proud of the thought-provoking documentaries that are aware of the labor’s issues in Taiwan.

   Director Kuo Ming-Chu of the second award winner In Search of MRT Divers attended the ceremony with the actors and actresses Hsu Sheng-Ching, Chu Chin-Cheng and Lin Kuei-Miao. According to her, most citizens do not realize that many workers suffered from decompression sickness during the construction of the MRT because of the constructor’s failure of obeying necessary regulations only to expedite the work with high-pressure techniques to deal with the underground water. There was a lack of solutions, healthcare or follow-up measures to such work under this abnormal pressure and to deal with occupational diseases occurred; also, there were neither precautions nor lawful support before or after the problems surface. Twenty years later, when we follow up with these workers, we hope to raise social awareness on the employer’s responsibility and the government’s attention on occupational safety and education so that the worker’s contribution and efforts could be remembered while we enjoy the convenience of the modern public facility.

   The first prize winner Director Juan Chin-Hung and Editor Lin Kai-Po both attended the award ceremony and extended their appreciation and honor to the jury members and the endorsement of the award. The purpose of this film is to help the public know why these foreign laborers would escape and give up legal jobs to become invisible persons. These young single workers came to Taiwan to work through agents and had to loan 150000~200000 to pay for the agent fees. However, their low salary as well as incidents when the factory could not have sufficient orders or were closed would make it difficult for them to pay off the debts unless trying out alternatives. If they had conflicts with employers and could not improve the situation through the agents or change employers, they may have to escape due to their unfamiliarity with the new environment, lack of language skills or because of the economic stress. As such, this film aims to help the public understand the status of the illegal laborers so that the government will be urged to face the issues of high agent fees and foreign laborer’s human rights.

   The award-winning films can be accessed through the “Taiwan so young labor video-audio platform” on the website of the Department of Labor, Taipei City Government (http://media.bola.taipei/index.php) or search 2017 Labor Gold Awards on the Internet to watch on the activity website. We will continue to promote and play the films at the labor unions, on campuses, in community universities and the libraries, as well as make good use of the undervalued works on labor issues as labor education materials by working out copy rights with the directors. We invite everyone to experience the labor film festival so as to take this wonderful opportunity to better understand Taiwan’s labor environment and concern about our working rights.