The Ministry of Labor will grant fishermen affected by a bridge collapse in Yilan earlier this month, who are looking to move to factory jobs, an extended period in which to find work, a labor official said on Thursday.

Six fishermen — three Indonesians and three Filipinos — were killed when a port bridge crashed onto boats below at about 9:30am on Oct. 1. The incident also left 18 migrant fishermen — 14 Filipinos and four Indonesians, whose sole accommdation was on the boats — homeless.

Paul Su (蘇裕國), deputy director of the Cross-Border Workforce Management Division of the ministry’s Workforce Development Agency, said that the paperwork for five of the Philippine fishermen who want to transfer to factory jobs will be issued next week.

“Once they have their paperwork, they can register for factory jobs. If they do not find jobs within 60 days, we will allow them to extend the period for another 60 days,” Su said during the world conference of the International Christian Maritime Association in Kaohsiung that began on Monday and ended yesterday. “We will allow the extension because this is a special case.”

Renato Ablog, originally from the Philippine province of La Union and one of the five Philippine fishermen, said the trauma from the bridge collapse was one of the main reasons he wanted to transfer to a factory job.

“I don’t have a preference for what type of factory job I get, but the main thing is to earn a salary because I have family in the Philippines that I need to support,” Ablog said.

Of the remaining 13 Philippine migrant fishermen, two are returning to the Philippines to live, while seven are transferring to new fishing employers in Yilan, Su said.

One Indonesian is being treated in a hospital for a severe injury, and another is in the hospital recovering from hand surgery and will transfer to another employer upon recovery, he said.

Two others have found new employers, but will visit Indonesia before returning to Taiwan to continue working, Su added.

As of the end of April, there were 12,406 migrant fishermen in Taiwan, Su said, adding that 12,383 work on fishing boats, while 23 are employed at fish farms.