The Coalition for Migrants’ Rights (CMR), a coalition of seven migrants’ grassroots organizations and trade unions in Hong Kong has been campaigning hard for the promotion of labor and the human rights of migrant workers in Hong Kong and yet, the migrant workers have been continuously denied the right to enjoy a fair share of return on their labor.
The Hong Kong government announced on 9 July 2008 that the minimum allowable wage (MAW) for foreign domestic workers (FDWs) would be increased by HK$100 per month from the previous HK$3,480 ? a meager salary adjustment from the 1993 wage level of HK$3,500.00.
While we are glad the government recognizes the pressing need to raise the MAW and welcome this attempt, we are deeply disappointed that the paltry increase will do little to improve the poor living and working conditions of foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong and members of their families back home. Recent studies conducted by Asian Migrant Centre on Nepalese and Indonesian domestic workers in Hong Kong revealed 61% and 22% underpayment respectively, on their wages.
Ms, Rusemi, chairperson of the Indonesian Migrant Workers Union (IMWU) said, “Underpayment is one of the most widespread forms of abuse against FDWs in Hong Kong, and almost 50% of us Indonesians FDWS continue to be underpaid, receiving only an average of HK$ 1,500-2,000/month. Closely linked to underpayment is the illegal practice of recruitment agencies collecting exorbitant recruitment fees, a blatant violation of HK laws which allow only 10% fees to be charged by ?recruitment agencies. Many agencies charge as high as HK$9,000 recruitment fee while many FDWs are underpaid or totally not paid for several months.”
Given the rising inflation and therefore the rising cost of living in Hong Kong and the decreasing value of the Hong Kong dollar remittances, the Hong Kong government should seriously implement a more substantial increase to the foreign domestic workers? wages. We call on the government to recognize that the HK$100 increase is grossly insufficient. In the past three years, the Hong Kong government has proudly declared its booming economy which is now one of the strongest in Asia, therefore, there is no reason why they cannot bring back the 1998 wage level of FDWs!
As a signatory to international labor and human rights standards, the HK government is obligated to fulfill its duty to promote equality of treatment between local and migrant workers. We find it outrageous that even after the recent incremental raise to HK$3,580, FDWs? wages continue to fall well below 1998 levels of $3,860. The HK government has the minimum duty to restore the FDWs wages to that which they received over ten years ago. In light of the positive social and economic contributions of migrant workers, and to correct their substandard working and living conditions, we call on the HK government to take immediate steps to restore HK$ 3,860 minimum wage for FDWs.
- Scrap the ‘2-Week Rule’ & New Conditions of Stay Policy (NCs)!
- Use the Employers’ Levy as Compensation Fund for FDWs!
- Stop Underpayment!
- Punish and Blacklist Abusive Employers and Recruitment Agencies!
- Implement Minimum Wage for Local Workers!
- Stop Racial Discrimination against Migrant Workers!
- Recognize Women’s Work & Domestic Work as Work!