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HK migrant workers call for $5,500 minimum wage

22 August 2017

AMCB spokesperson Dolo Balladares (with mic) speaks to the press while
Indonesian leader Sringatin (center) and Mariel Tadalan look on
By Daisy CL Mandap

One of the biggest migrant workers’ groups in Hong Kong has called on the government to increase the minimum salary of foreign domestic workers to $5,500 (US$706) and the food allowance to $2,500 (US$321) per month.
The call was made by the Asian Migrants Coordinating Body (AMCB) at a protest rally held on Chater Road, Central last Sunday, Aug 20.
According to AMCB spokesman Eman Villanueva, their calls focused on three Ws: wage, working hours and working and living conditions, and their impact on the health of foreign domestic workers.
In its statement, AMCB said the wage increase it is seeking will allow migrant domestic workers to cope with the increasing cost of living in Hong Kong.
The food allowance sought, on the other hand, is meant to ensure the workers’ well-being and their capacity to work.
Currently, the “minimum allowable wage” set for foreign domestic helpers in Hong Kong is $4,310 and the food allowance, which is given only to those who don’t get free food from their employers, is $1,037.
Previously, it was $4,210 and $995, respectively.
“The measly increases of the MAW for the past years are very much insufficient to reach a living wage for MDWs. Inflation in Hong Kong is constant, yet the wage of MDWs are not adjusted accordingly against the upward trend of the cost of commodities and of living in HK,” said the AMCB statement.
During the rally, a Filipina domestic worker who made headlines after she won a constructive dismissal case against her Hong Kong employer who made her sleep on the terrace and on the kitchen floor of his house, was made to speak.
Mariel Tadalan echoed the call for better sleeping arrangements for all FDWs.
AMCB expanded the demand to include the scrapping of the mandatory live-in arrangement for FDWs.
“It is disappointing that despite the overwhelming (number of) cases and evidence of the impact of the mandatory live-in arrangement, the government has refused to even review the flaw of such policy. The AMCB maintains that accommodation arrangement should be of mutual consent between employers and MDWs while categories of unsuitable accommodation should be made more clear,” the group said.
AMCB plans to hold a series of mass actions starting Sept. 3, while pursuing dialogues with legislators and HK labour officials to press their demands.

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