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Migrants group slams decision not to increase FDW wages

29 September 2020

By The SUN

AMCB members at a May Day rally in HK - AFP photo

A militant migrant support group has slammed the Hong Kong government’s decision not to increase the minimum wage for foreign domestic workers this year, saying it is “truly heartless.”

The Asian Migrants Coordinating Body said this in a statement released shortly after the government announced that the minimum allowable wage (MAW) for FDWs would be kept at its present level of $4,630 per month. The optional food allowance will also remain at $1,121 per month.

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“With the decision to keep the MAW at its current level, it seems that MDWs (migrant domestic workers) are treated as part of the government aid to HK families during COVID pandemic,” said the AMCB statement.

The AMCB had called for increasing the MAW to no less than $5,894 per month “to at least meet the living wage standard of Hong Kong.”

A poster by AMCB affiliate Indonesian Migrant Workers Union shows their most recent demand

“Meanwhile, the HK government has not given any solution to the burdens shouldered by MDWs - longer hours of work, none or restricted days off, excluded from any financial aid, stigmatized as carriers of the virus, etc. So we must ask: does the HK government treat MDWs as humans also affected by the pandemic? Or only as welfare gifts for suffering HK households?”

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The statement further reiterated its long-held position that MDWs are being neglected by the government in responding to the Covid-19 crisis, as they are excluded from any financial aid given to other residents.

“How much more should MDWs suffer before the govt recognises that they owe MDWs their due share in the Covid-19 response?”, said AMCB.

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“The decision to maintain wages for FDWs in the time of increasing strain to the FDWs physical, mental, and financial well being is truly heartless. It only confirms what we hope should not be the truth - that for the government, MDWs are mere disposable and sub-class labor.”

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AMCB has been at the forefront of the yearly campaign to get the MAW raised to what it argues is acceptable level, given that studies invariably show that FDWs work an average of 16 hours a day, and have been excluded from the minimum wage set for other workers.

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