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FDWs take up demand for $5,500 monthly wage with HK labour officials

07 August 2018

By Daisy CL Mandap
Migrant workers want the HK government to give serious thought to their demands

Leaders of Filipino and Indonesian migrant organizations emerged from an hour-long meeting with Hong Kong labour officials today, unsure if their demand for a minimum monthly wage of $5,500 and food allowance of $2,500 will be given serious thought.

Eman Villanueva, spokesman of the Asian Migrants Coordinating Body, said that as in previous years, the migrants delegation failed to get assurance from the government panel headed by Assistant Commissioner for Labour Queenie Wong, that their concerns would be addressed.

The meeting, held at the Labour Department offices in Sheung Wan, was sought by the government side ahead of the yearly assessment of the minimum allowable wage for foreign domestic helpers in Hong Kong.

Villanueva said all that they had put on the table was the “bare minimum” that foreign domestic helpers need to survive in Hong Kong. He described the minimum pay that they are asking for as a “living wage”, while the new food allowance was said to be based on the per capita food spending in Hong Kong.
$5,500 a month is just a "living wage" say migrants

“So we are not asking for too much,” he said.

He decried that the government panel was unable to show the same kind of serious analysis of available economic data when assessing how much salary FDWs are entitled to each year.

During the meeting, the migrants said they also brought up up other serious concerns, such as overcharging and other illicit practices of some employment agencies, suitable accommodation for domestic workers, rest hours and the strict enforcement of the window cleaning ban.

For the first time, the migrants asked labour officials to identify in their work contracts the parts of their employer’s house that do not qualify as “suitable accommodation” for them, such as toilets, kitchens, cupboards and living rooms.

The migrants also reiterated a demand for work hours to be made part of their contracts, and specifically asked that they be allowed to rest continuously for at least 11 hours each day.

Another concern was the so-called “lack of teeth” in the ban against unsafe window cleaning by domestic workers. Citing the recent death of an Indonesian domestic helper who fell while cleaning windows, Villanueva said there clearly is a need to include a penalty provision in the ban which took effect last year.

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