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Number of migrant workers remains steady despite protests

27 August 2019

By Daisy CL Mandap

 More Filipino domestic workers are coming to HK despite the uncertainty over the protests  

Fears that the extradition bill protests could result to many migrant domestic workers losing their jobs appear to be unfounded – at least for now.

Latest figures from Hong Kong Immigration show that the number of foreign domestic helpers has risen steadily, even after the first outbreak of clashes between protesters and the police in early June this year.

At the end of July, a total of 394,869 FDHs were recorded to be in Hong Kong, up by more than 1,500 from the previous month.
Filipinos made up more than half of the total figure, at 216,373. That’s about a third more than the Indonesians, the second most dominant ethnic minority group of FDHs, who numbered 169,134 in the same period.

The latest data also show that the number of Filipino DHs has risen steadily each month, with more than 6,000 new arrivals since December last year.

The steady increase appears to indicate that while many Hong Kong residents have voiced skepticism about their future because of the continuing protests that have at times turned violent, they are still staying put, and keeping their helpers.
The upward trend is also reflected in the number of contracts submitted for processing at the Philippine Overseas Labor Office.

According to Polo’s Officer-in-Charge, Antonio Villafuerte, his office is still processing about 700 contracts per day, but this nearly doubles whenever they close for a holiday, like on Monday, Aug 26.

Image may contain: 34 people, people smiling, people sitting
Around 100 newcomers pack Polo's post-arrival orientation seminar each day

Another way for them to monitor newcomers is through the post-arrival orientations seminars that they conduct on a daily basis for some 100 newly-arrived FDHs each time. Again, this number doubles after each holiday.

But Villafuerte says the Consulate remains vigilant in case the continuing unrest causes a knock-down effect on Filipinos, especially the migrant workers. Many say it is too early to see the effect of the prolonged unrest. 



He himself is paying particular attention to the financial sector, thinking that any economic fallout from the tense situation could lead to many people leaving Hong Kong, and as a consequence, cost Filipinos their jobs.

Meantime, Polo has implemented measures to ensure the safety of newly arrived Filipino workers, like requiring their recruitment agencies to provide them with phone SIM cards even before they fly out of the Philippines.

This, plus the requirement for agencies to supply Polo with 24-hour hotlines, are meant to ensure that there are people on standby in case a worker runs into trouble, especially now that strict security measures are enforced at HK Airport.

Villafuerte says all the more than 500 agencies accredited with Polo have become fully compliant with these new requirements. The ones who did not comply initially, and were warned with a two-day suspension for failing to meet the Aug 15 deadline, reportedly did not see Polo’s advisory immediately as it landed in their “spam” mail.


Foreign Domestic Helpers (FDHs) Population in Hong Kong

As at the end of Month/Year
Philippines
Indonesia
India
Other nationalities
Total number for all nationalities

Dec 2018
210,897
165,907
4,502
4,769
386,075
Jan 2019
213,110
167,480
4,515
4,766
389,871
Feb 2019
214,018
167,623
4,570
4,758
390,969
Mar 2019
214,211
168,060
4,557
4,758
391,586
Apr 2019
214,358
168,377
4,564
4,737
392,036
May 2019
215,586
168,644
4,625
4,732
393,587
Jun 2019
216,052
167,937
4,621
4,734
393,344
Jul 2019
216,375
169,134
4,652
4,708
394,869

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