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FDHs reject agency claims that they've become choosy, want more pay

12 July 2021

By Vir B. Lumicao 

HKUEA chair Thomas Chan says they've been urging for the lifting of the ban for months

Foreign domestic workers have ridiculed Hong Kong agencies’ claims that local families who need helpers are suffering amid a ban on flights from the Philippines and Indonesia, as those who are already here have become choosy, or are demanding up to $7,000 in salary.

They were reacting to the Hong Kong Union of Employment Agencies’ clamor, announced during a press conference yesterday, to lift the ban and allow vaccinated helpers stranded in the two countries to come here.


The workers said it is they who continue to suffer and not the employers who may have difficulty retaining helpers because they are abusive. They said domestic workers would not quit their job on a mere whim, knowing that Immigration has been cracking down on so-called “job hoppers.”

They scoffed at the union’s claim that some employers have become so desperate they have begun wooing helpers on the streets or online with pay that is much higher than the required minimum of $4,630. At least one union officer said many helpers who are in Hong Kong no longer want to work with families who have babies.

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Dolores Balladares, chair of United Filipinos in Hong Kong-Migrante, said workers like the agencies, also want the ban lifted as it has left thousands of people  jobless for months and buried in debt, especially due to usurious money lenders.

Balladares says FDWs can't be choosy because of the 'job hopping' threat

“Pero hindi ako sang-ayon sa sinasabi ng agency na nagiging mapili ang mga OFWs at nagdedemand ng higher salary dahil sinasamantala ang sitwasyon na may ban,” said Balladares. (But I don’t buy the agencies’ claim that OFWs have become choosy and are demanding a higher salary to take advantage of the flight ban.)

"May ban o wala, pag na-terminate ang mga OFW, problemang malaki, lalo ngayon na may paghihigpit at pag-aakusa pa na mga job hopper ang mga nate-terminate na OFW. Kaya we appeal sa HK government na i-lift na ang ban dahil wala din namang kasalanan ang mga OFW,” said Balladares.


(Ban or no ban, it’s a big problem when OFWs get terminated, especially now that the government is tightening (visa issuance) and accusing fired OFWs of job hopping. That’s why we appeal to the HK government to lift the ban, as it’s not OFWs’ fault anyway.)

She said it’s the Philippine government that should be blamed as it is its sluggishness, negligence and failure to curb the rate of infection that prompted Hong Kong to impose the ban.

The negative feedback was evident in the posts made by Filipino workers on The SUN's Facebook page where a story about the agencies' claims was posted.

Carmelita Tan commented that the agencies’ claim that helpers are demanding salaries of up to $7,000 salary is unbelievable because most employers won’t even give food allowance.

"Nagtrabaho ka nang bonggang-bongga, minsan ikaw pa bibili ng pagkain mo sa sarili mong pera... Mahirap din ang kalagayan namin dito, lalo kung yung amo nasa bahay. May camera na, may human camera pa na security guard namin dito. Walang pahinga,” Tan said.

(You work very hard, yet sometimes it’s you who buy your own food out of your pocket. Our situation here is difficult, especially if the employer is at home. We have a human camera in addition to the camera here that is our security guard. We have no rest.)

She wished the flight ban would be lifted soon as she sympathized with the job applicants who are waiting to come here because they have already spent so much borrowed money while on standby in Manila.

Cindy Bahian, also commenting in the report, said the authorities should closely monitor employers who hire helpers. They should check employers’ homes to find out if there is a proper sleep and rest area for their helper, she said.

Bed in toilet: Many helpers are still not provided decent rest area, many say

“Kasi yung katulong po ay tao, hindi hayop na basta-basta na lang ilagay sa sulok para patulugin at pakainin,” Bahian said. (That’s because the helper is a human, not an animal that can simply be given a nook to sleep and eat.)

Many other workers commented that they are worse off during the pandemic because they are made to work for 16 to 18 hours a day, and given little food.

Terry Melchor said it was just fair for helpers to receive a salary as high as $7,000.

"Very reasonable lang naman po ang ($7,000) sahod na yan. Ang hirap din kaya ang sitwasyon nating mga DH dito. Mas kami ang nahihirapan, hindi ang mga amo o ang mga agency man,” Melchor said.

(That salary is very reasonable. Our situation as DHs here is not easy. It’s us who are suffering, not the employers of the agencies.)

“We deserve to be paid higher than the minimum wage. We want a salary increase, please,” she said.

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