Maids reveal labour dismay
Nearly half the domestic helpers who have sought help from labour services are unhappy with the officials' performance, a survey showed.
According to the survey of 791 foreign maids by the Hong Kong Diocesan Pastoral Centre for Workers in June and July, 30.6 per cent of the maids had contacted the Labour Department, the Small Claims Tribunal and the Labour Tribunal for their advice and assistance.
Of this percentage, 43.5 per cent were unsatisfied with the services offered. The maids also said their contacts with officials were hampered by a language barrier.
The Christian welfare group said many workers would not contact labour officials despite having problems in their employment.
That is because they do not even know of the existence of the relevant departments, or they are worried that it would be complicated.
The closure of the labour offices during the weekends when the maids have their days off, help protect employers, the maids said.
Filipino maids have a better understanding of their labour rights than those from Indonesia, the survey found. Some 36 per cent of the 727 Filipino maids interviewed contacted labour officials for help, compared to 12.1 per cent of the 60 Indonesian maids interviewed.The pastoral centre called on the Labour Department to improve its services to domestic helpers by making more translators available and opening its offices on Saturdays and on Sundays.
In response, the department said it has a 24-hour hotline (2717-1771) that the maids could call with any questions regarding their rights. Seminars were often organised to educate them on their rights, it said.
A spokeswoman for the department said officials always try to be neutral in dealing with disputes. Booklets concerning helpers' labour rights are also available in various languages, she said. 'The department will try to improve its services to accommodate the helpers' needs.'