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Maids told: Report employers who force you to work in China

04 September 2017

By Daisy CL Mandap

Labor Attache Jalilo dela Torre.

Filipino domestic workers should complain when their Hong Kong employers bring them to China for work, according to Labor Attache Jalilo dela Torre.

At the same time, he said Hong Kong Immigration should not tolerate the illegal practice by some Hong Kong employers of making their helpers work on the mainland.

Labatt dela Torre was reacting to reports that the employers of Filipina domestic worker Lorain E. Asuncion who died in Shenzhen last month had been arrested by the police in Hong Kong last Thursday, Aug. 17. The couple was held on a charge of conspiring to defraud HK Immigration by claiming that their domestic would work only in the territory.

Police reportedly found out that the Filipina had been taken across the border by her employers four times in the nine months that she was in their employ.

Asuncion, 28 and single, reportedly fell from a building in Shenzhen on July 24 after her employers allegedly sent her to work there for the father of her female employer. The exact cause of her death is still being investigated.

“Bringing domestic workers to China for work shouldn’t be tolerated by the Immigration Department because it constitutes a continuing breach of condition of stay,” dela Torre told The SUN in an online message. “I don’t think she (was) being brought there to enjoy the sounds and sights of China”.

On the other hand, he said Filipino domestic workers should do their part in averting the commission of the said illegal act.

“Our domestic workers shouldn’t allow themselves become an unwilling party to the immigration offence. They should report to Immigration that the employer has plans to bring them to China,” dela Torre said.

While some domestic workers are allowed to accompany their employers abroad for a vacation, the labor official said a distinction should be made. “If the intention is to make them work,” he said HK Immigration should not allow it.

His call echoed that made earlier by Indonesian Consul General Tri Tharyat, who called on the Hong Kong government to crack down on the practice.

“We have to stop this practice now,” Consul General Tri told the South China Morning Post in an interview. “I don’t think we need to wait for someone else to die because of this.”

Indonesia’s top diplomat said it was not realistic to expect the helpers to report to the authorities on such cases because they are scared of losing their jobs.

“I think we should work on a policy level and operational level. There should be more stern measures taken by the Hong Kong government against these employers who employ their helpers in more than one address ... I really hope there are more sanctions,” Tri reportedly said.

Anyone found to have provided false information to Immigration could be prosecuted and face a maximum fine of $150,000 and imprisonment of up to 14 years.

However, until Asuncion’s death, no employer had been arrested or held liable for breaching the law against bringing a domestic worker to China for work. In a few cases reported to The SUN, it was the Chinese authorities which rejected visitor’s visa applications made by employers for their foreign domestic helpers.

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