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Migrants’ Day marked with demand for higher pay, less work

19 December 2021

By Daisy CL Mandap 

A token protest to mark International Migrants Day is held outside the Central Government Offices

A minimum wage of no less than $6,014, working hours that do not exceed 11 hours a day and guaranteed long service pay after five years of uninterrupted service were among the key demands migrant organizations raised in a letter addressed to Chief Executive Carrie Lam on Saturday, Dec 18.

The letter was handed out by representatives of the Asian Migrants Coordinating Body and the International Migrants Alliance during pocket protests they staged at various government offices as well as the Philippine and Indonesian consulates to mark International Migrants Day.


In their letter, the two groups said the foreign domestic workers’ current minimum wage of $4,630 a month amounts to only $31.15 per hour, which is just 56% of the $54.70 hourly rate for a “living wage” prescribed by a study conducted by Oxfam.

Despite this, a study by the Mission for Migrant Workers found that 98% of the workers worked long hours. Over 70% were found to work between 11 to 16 hours a day while almost 30% work more than 16 hours daily.


The Covid-19 pandemic made the 380,000 migrant domestic workers even more vulnerable to abuse, said the letter.

In an online survey conducted by the Mission in March, nearly half (40%) of the respondent workers said they had not been allowed to go out of the house for a month, 25% slept less compared to the previous month, and 50% reported working longer hours.


And yet migrant workers had been left out of the financial support the government had extended to most sectors of the society to ease the hardships wrought by the pandemic, said the migrants.

“Based on our computation and studies of a standard living wage, the minimum wage of MDWs in Hong Kong should be no less than $6,014 per month and a food allowance of $2,600…” said the letter.

Protest outside Immigration, which is accused of unfairly labeling migrants 'job hoppers'

On top of this, the migrants demanded that the standard employment contract for foreign domestic helpers be amended to provide “for a continuous 11-hour rest periods between two consecutive work days plus meal breaks for live-in domestic workers.”


A notable addition to their demands is the provision of long service payment to all domestic workers who work continuously for at least five years with the same employer.

“We demand the Hong Kong government, regardless of who decides not to renew their contract, to guarantee payment of long service after five years of service of work for one employer,” said the letter.


Currently, no long service pay is due a domestic helper if he or she is the one who decides not to renew a contract or pre-terminates it, no matter how long the worker had served the employer.

Protest outside the Philippine Consulate focused more on corruption

Another new demand is that Immigration Department stop labeling domestic workers who do not complete their work contracts as “job hoppers.”

“We reiterate that migrants are actually forced to stay in abusive working conditions (rather) than resign for fear of being judged as 'job-hoppers', and then forced to go home,” said the letter.

Pindutin para sa detalye

Providing domestic workers with a living wage and reforming policies that put them in a vulnerable position would enable the Hong Kong government to show its recognition of their valuable contribution to society, the migrant groups said.

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