Responsive Ad Slot

Latest

Buhay Pinay

Features

People

Sports

Philippine News

Join us at Facebook!

Migrant workers urged to observe social distancing, safeguard their rights

05 April 2020

By Vir B. Lumicao

Migrant leaders call on workers to heed social distancing rules amid a crowded footbridge

Filipino migrant leaders have urged fellow workers to stay healthy and support Hong Kong’s social distancing protocol, as they accused the government of singling them out as agents of the contagion.

The activists also reminded Filipino helpers who huddled in groups of four in the Chater Road subway on Sunday, Apr 5, to be aware of their labor rights amid the Labour Department’s appeal to them to spend their rest day in their employers’ homes.

Eman Villanueva, chairman of Bayan Hong Kong and Macau, spoke briefly to the workers as Dolores Balladares of United Filipinos in Hong Kong led a group in handing out leaflets, surgical masks and sanitizers as protection from the virus.
The “Care for Domestic Workers” event was also carried out before noon at the Mong Kok Footbridge and at Victoria Park in Causeway Bay, both favorite hangouts of mainly Indonesian maids on Sundays.

The outreach was a joint project of the Mission for Migrant Workers, Asian Migrants Coordinating Body and the office of Legislative Councilor Fernando Cheung.

Villanueva, an AMCB spokesman, warned the workers to beware of employers who use the stay-home call as a reason to let their helpers work on their rest day.
Mali po iyon, nilalabag ang ating karapatan na one rest day per week. Kapag kayo po ay (hindi binigyan) ng one rest day per week, ipaabot nyo sa aming kaalaman, puwede namin kayong tulungan,” Villanueva said.

“Iyan po ay criminal offense, violation po iyan ng Labour Ordinance. Hindi po iyan simpleng paglabag, ito ay criminal offense,” he emphasized.

He reminded the helpers that each time there was an outbreak, the host government turned its sights on OFWs, as if they brought the disease with them.

Villanueva says Filipino domestic workers are wrongly accused of bringing home the disease with them

“Pero sa totoo, sa record ng Hong Kong mismo, yung mga Pilipino ang nahawa ng mga employer. So, hindi tayo ang nagkakalat, tayo ang nakakakuha pero pinalalabas ng Hong Kong government na para bang tayo ang nagkakalat,” Villanueva said.

About 20 foreign domestic workers have tested positive for Covid-19 in Hong Kong, all of them Filipinos. All except four who were found infected after arriving from Manila, caught the virus in their employers’ homes.

Villanueva added that while there is discrimination, workers on their day off should abide by the rule of gathering in groups of no more than four so they don’t violate the law.

He lamented that the government remembered migrants when asking for sacrifices, such as staying at home on their rest days, but excluded them from benefits such as the $10,000 financial assistance given to residents.

Balladares, meanwhile, advised the workers to safeguard their health so that there would be no reason for locals to accuse them of being filthy and likely carriers of disease.

In an interview, Balladares and another migrant leader, Sheila Tebia of Gabriela Hong Kong, have said that they continue to receive reports of helpers being fired by their employers who accuse them of bringing the virus with them after taking their day off.

In one incident, Balladares said, a worker was dismissed by her local employer simply because she was seen taking various pills.

Tebia said there were workers who were told to wear plastic raincoats throughout their day off, supposedly to prevent them from catching the virus, then bringing it back home with them.

Villanueva said the employers are treating the workers wrongly because they send them out to the market during weekdays, but prevent them from going out on Sundays, as if they are more in danger of getting ill when with their friends.

Cheung did not arrive for the event either in Mongkok or in Central, but sent a staff member who brought the masks and sanitizers that were given away.
 
Indonesians Eni and Erwiana (middle two) were among the speakers

The Filcom leaders were joined by Johannie Tong from the Mission; Eni Lestari, chairperson of International Migrants Alliance; and former abuse victim Erwiana Sulistyaningsih who now volunteers at the Mission.

The three led the distribution of social distancing leaflets, masks and sanitizers in Mongkok. The two Indonesian activists later left for Causeway Bay to engage their compatriots on Victoria Park.

Don't Miss