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Domestic workers' salary in HK raised by $110, migrants call it 'an insult'

28 September 2018

By The SUN

 Migrant domestic groups have lashed out at the $110 monthly increase in the salary of foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong, calling it “an insult.”

From tomorrow, the new minimum allowable wage for FDHs will be raised to $4,520 a month, from the previous $4,410. The monthly food allowance will go up by $22 to $1,075 a month.

Migrant workers asked for $5,500 but got only $4,520
Migrant leaders have been calling for a $5,500 minimum wage and $2,500 food allowance.

Eman Villanueva, spokesperson of the Asian Migrants Coordinating Body, said it was an insult to give foreign domestic workers so little an increase in their monthly wage because their expenses have been going up considerably.

“It’s because the government keeps insisting on making “affordability” (or the capability of an employer to hire a domestic helper) a factor in determining how much we should make in a month. But what about the migrant worker’s right to earn a living wage?”

Villanueva was more upset that the additional allowance given to a migrant worker who is not given free food is just $22 a month. “That’s less than $1 a day!,” he said. “It suggests that the government is ok with domestic workers eating only noodles every day because that’s all they can afford with the amount given them for food.”

He said AMCB will continue its work on securing better pay and working conditions for all FDWs, and hoped more will support their cause.

A statement issued by the government late this afternoon (Sept 28) pegged the wage increase at 2.5 percent, and 2.1 percent for the food allowance.

The statement said, "The Government reviews the MAW for FDHs regularly. In accordance with the established practice, we have carefully considered Hong Kong's general economic and labour market conditions over the past year, as reflected through a basket of economic indicators, including the relevant income movement and price change in this year's review. The Government has also taken into account Hong Kong's near-term economic outlook, as well as affordability for employers on the one hand and the interests of FDHs on the other, in reaching the decision on the above-mentioned adjustment."

The new wage levels will apply to all FDH contracts signed on or after tomorrow, Sept. 29. Those signed earlier at the previous levels will still be processed by Immigration provided the contracts reach its offices on or before Oct. 26.

The arrangement is meant to give employers enough time to send the signed contracts to Immigration for processing.

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