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DHs’ monthly pay raised by $100, food allowance by $16; workers call it insult

29 September 2017

Migrant workers groups asked for a minimum monthly wage of $5,500
By The SUN Staff

Foreign domestic helpers in Hong Kong who sign new contracts from Sept 30 onward will see their monthly salary increased by $100 (2.3%) to $4,410 from the previous $4,310. Those who are given food allowance will get an increase of a mere $16 (1.5%) – from $1,037 to $1,053

The new rates were announced by the Hong Kong government earlier today, Sept. 29.
Militant migrant workers’ leader Eman Villanueva called the meager increase “an insult and a clear proof that the Hong Kong government is promoting slavery.”

“We laid down the basis of our demand for a $5,500 monthly minimum wage during the public consultations but the government simply ignored our demand. Obviously, it is clear that the government is not sincere about the public consultations,” Villanueva, chairman of Bayan Hong Kong & Macau said when asked for a comment. 

He said the levels of increases are not realistic and send a message that the government does not care about migrant workers.

“The $100 increase is only a token pay hike to appease the workers,” he said.

Militant workers’ groups are now reportedly consulting each other to set a date for any action they will take against the slight salary increase.

A government press release reiterated that several factors were taken into consideration in coming up with the MAW.      

“The government reviews the MAW for FDHs regularly. In accordance with the established practice, we have carefully considered Hong Kong's general economic and labour market conditions over the past year, as reflected through a basket of economic indicators, including the relevant income movement and price change in this year's review,” a government spokesman said.
“Moreover, the government has taken into account Hong Kong’s near-term economic outlook, as well as affordability for employers on the one hand and the livelihood of FDHs on the other, in reaching the decision on the above-mentioned adjustment.
“The government has also reviewed the food allowance in lieu of free food, and decided to increase the allowance level.”

Most FDWs are asking to get the allowance instead of being given free food by their employers, claiming that many are not given enough to eat each day, or get only leftovers.

The government announcement said contracts signed on Sept 29 or earlier at the existing salary of $4,310 a month and with food allowance of not less than $1,037 a month will still be processed by Immigration provided the applications reach the department by Oct 27.
This arrangement is meant to give employers enough time to send the signed contracts to Immigration to complete the application process.

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