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FDH number up again in Oct, but agencies say most are returnees

04 November 2020

by Vir B. Lumicao  

OFWs held up by travel restrictions in the Philippines are returning to HK, agencies say

The September surge in the number of Filipino domestic helpers in Hong Kong continued last month, with 748 additions at the end of last month, Immigration statistics show.

But the increase doesn’t really reflect a rebound in recruitment in the Philippines as the arrivals are most returning workers, according to the head of an employment agency group.

The second month of growth brought the total number of Filipinos helpers in the city to 208,143, up from 206,395 in the previous month.

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But the October total is still 11,585 short of the Filipino helper number in Hong Kong in January before the coronavirus crisis began.

Indonesian domestic helpers also grew in number by 678, to a total of 158,551, but this could be due to the gradual relaxation of the travel restrictions imposed by Jakarta on its migrant workers returning to their jobsites.

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Thomas Chan, chairman of the Hong Kong Union of Employment Agencies, says the  increase in the ranks of both Filipino and Indonesian domestic helpers in the past two months could be mostly returning workers.

“For Indonesians, I guess most of them are those returnees or those working before in Hong Kong,” said Chan, whose Bright International Services Co deploys helpers from the two countries.

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“Since the Indonesian government is introducing a new policy on placement for Indonesian agencies, most of the agencies there have stopped sending files to Hong Kong before the picture becomes clear when the new policy gets implemented,” Chan said.

As for the growth in the Filipino helpers’ population, Chan said the majority of them must have been hired in earlier months but were not able to depart earlier because of Covid-related restrictions.

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“The recruitment in the Philippines doesn’t [reflect] an obvious improvement in the past two months,” he said.

Last month, Chan said the returning Filipino helpers were those who went home for a vacation during the year-end holidays and got stranded by the long lockdowns in Metro Manila due to outbreaks of Covid-19 infections.

Since the start of the pandemic-related lockdown, the Manila-Hong Kong route has been serviced by irregular Cathay Pacific and Hong Kong Airlines flights, which were joined recently on the route by Philippine Airlines, and lately, by Cebu Pacific.


Foreign Domestic Helpers Population in Hong Kong

 

At end of Month/Year

Philippines

Indonesia

India

Other nationalities

Total -- all nationalities

Jan-20

219,728

170,898

4,838

4,657

400,121

Feb-20

217,654

171,291

4,857

4,619

398,421

Mar-20

218,002

170,318

4,818

4,594

397,732

Apr-20

215,061

167,747

4,723

4,493

392,024

May-20

212,855

165,377

4,664

4,446

387,342

Jun-20

211,426

164,528

 

9,052

385,006

Jul-20

209,512

161,762

4,522

4,379

380,175

Aug-20

204,023

157,337

4,360

4,245

369,965

Sep-20

206,395

157,873

4,353

4,248

372,869

October

208,143

158,551

4,392

4,290

375,376

Source: Hong Kong Immigration 

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