Thousands of Filipinos blocked by moratorium

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 March, 2013, 5:10am

A month-long industry moratorium on bringing domestic helpers from the Philippines to Hong Kong prevented up to 2,000 workers from coming to the city.

But Hong Kong agencies said the ban, which ended yesterday, had a limited impact on their trade, as the Philippines was not the sole source of helpers.

Moreover, many would-be Hong Kong employers had expected the moratorium to be temporary and decided to hold out for its end.

The 60-member-strong Society of Hong Kong Accredited Recruiters of the Philippines (Sharp) launched the moratorium on February 27, after it failed to persuade Manila to scrap a ban on charging helpers a placement fee of one month's salary.

Now Manila wants Hong Kong agencies to pay their counterparts in the Philippines HK$5,500 more in recruitment fees to cover expenses, such as plane tickets and insurance.

But Sharp called off the moratorium from yesterday, claiming a "substantial number" of Hong Kong agencies had agreed to charge employers more. But local groups said very few agencies had agreed to this.

Teresa Liu Tsui-lan, managing director of one of the biggest agencies, Technic Employment Service Centre, said about 100 Filipinos come to the city as helpers every day.

As Sharp members handled 63 per cent of Filipino recruitment, this could mean that about 2,000 helpers did not come to the city during the moratorium.

Liu said none of the 200 helpers her companies had applied for during the moratorium had arrived.

Richard Lam Kwok-chuen, owner of Metro Asia Recruitment Services, had applied for 20 helpers during the standoff, but was still waiting for them.