• Fri
  • Apr 18, 2014
  • Updated: 12:40pm
NewsHong Kong
EMPLOYMENT

Anger over HK$90 rise in monthly minimum wage for domestic workers

Disappointed unions say new minimum wage is still only HK$150 more than it was 15 years ago and predict it will deepen shortage of recruits

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 September, 2013, 9:37pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 October, 2013, 10:44am
 

Poll

  • Yes: 17%
  • No: 83%
1 Oct 2013
  • Yes
  • No
Total number of votes recorded: 315

Domestic helpers who sign contracts from today will get an additional HK$90 a month after a government decision that upset the workers but pleased their employers.

The new monthly minimum wage is HK$4,010 and helpers whose bosses do not provide food will have their monthly allowance raised by HK$45 to HK$920 a month.

Helpers' unions said that after reductions and freezes during recent tough economic times, the new wage was only HK$150 a month above the 1998 level.

Eman Villanueva, spokesman for the Asian Migrants' Co-ordinating Body, was "very disappointed and angered" by the 2.3 per cent increase and said the supply of helpers would become even more restricted.

He said he made it clear to the Labour Department at a recent meeting that monthly minimum pay should rise to HK$4,500.

But Joseph Law Kwan-din, chairman of the Hong Kong Employers of Overseas Domestic Helpers Association, said the government had taken employers' ability to pay into consideration.

He said Hong Kong should still be able to recruit a sufficient number of helpers because of poorer employment conditions in places such as Taiwan, where helpers are given fewer public holidays off.

A government spokesman said the increase was set "after careful consideration of the economic indicators".

He said it was also necessary to strike a balance between what employers could afford and the livelihoods of the helpers.

Helen Bulusan, who has been working in the city for 11 years, said she was very disappointed.

She said some helpers needed to spend HK$1,200 a month on food because employers offered only simple meals such as bread.

Along with other expenses such as phone bills, many helpers had only HK$2,500 left at the end of the month.

Villanueva said a bigger pay rise was justified because of high inflation. He said the wage level had not risen sufficiently over the years and pointed out it was HK$3,860 in 1998.

"I think the shortage [of helpers] will worsen because the wage is not attractive," he said.

"In Canada, the minimum wage for foreign domestic helpers is the same as for the locals.

"New York and California have also approved a bill of rights to give the same minimum wage level to locals and to foreign domestic workers."

The minimum wage in Canada differs among provinces, but it is about C$10 (HK$75) an hour.

The minimum monthly wages for helpers in Taiwan and Singapore are about HK$4,100 and HK$3,000 respectively.

There are more than 300,000 foreign helpers in Hong Kong at present, mainly from the Philippines and Indonesia.

As the governments in Manila and Jakarta are planning policies to discourage their citizens from working as helpers overseas, agencies are looking to Bangladesh for new recruits.

There are currently about 100 Bangladeshi helpers in the city.

Technic Employment Service Centre chief Teresa Liu Tsui-lan said Hongkongers were once able to choose helpers from several candidates, but now had to take those offered by agencies.

 

Share

34

This article is now closed to comments

mercedes2233
Sure, HK employers are terrible people with terrible terms of employment. What baffles me is, why are FDHs still coming though? Nobody is forcing them to come, I hope.
chanaa
The wage level is in line with HK's peer living standard ie. SG & TW, so on that part i agree with the decision.
But going thru some of the harsh comments here, i think HK people have missed the point. The maids are here to service the families who need to work, put food on the table, roof over the heads & education for their kids. Those who chose to do so, benefits financially, otherwise they might as well stay at home and do the duties of the maid. For the richer set, it helps preserve their lifestyle & independence. In all their family units remain together.
For most of the maids, its out of necessity. To provide for their families back home, to provide for their education, medical. Its a tough sacrifice to leave their young kids, husbands, parents with most going back only once every 2 years. My point is, these maids are human too & we should acknowledge their sacrifice.
mercedes2233
Poor maids. Please don't 'sacrifice' and go home to your 'young kids, husbands, parents', from HK, Canada, Middle East, or wherever. The rest of us wealthy people will try to make do without you.
HK-Explorer
Domestic helpers are paid a fair wage. The government compares wages in their home country, wages paid in other countries. They factor in paid holidays, flights home, free place to stay, free food, not having to pay HK tax and that while in HK domestic helpers are single person households.
$4,000 received by domestic helpers is pure profit after all nesecity expenses. How many people in the poorest 30% of people in HK have $4,000 per person left over after paying basic expenses? A smar domestic helper who is good with their money can save HK$48,000 per year and if they work in HK for 10 years they can save HK $480,000 (maybe double if they invest smartly) and go back to Philippines and retire.
In contrast the poor and medium clas in HK need to work at least 40 years to retire.
I would also say that the majority of domestic helpers living in better houses compared to the lowest 30% of Hong Kong people. The more I think about it the more privalaged domestic helpers appear to poor HK residents.
stoatmonster
sontan0917: your ranting and raving clearly indicates that you are a rabid, misinformed bigot. Go away and refrain from polluting these pages with your nonsense.
sontan0917
please don't listen to the demands of these sucking maids. this bullying and threatening should not be accepted. don't be dependent on these maids who in realty only come here to enjoy and not work. these maids are worried about their phone bills. why will the employer bear their luxury expenses. the citizens of hong kong don't get enough jobs and salaries and these maids expect employers to increase their salaries otherwise they will not work. are they out of their mind. this threatening of eman vellaneuva will not be accepted.get out of hong kong if you are not satisfied by the pay and work
chanaa
sontan0917, did your husband or boyfriend run away with a frgn maid ? You poor sad thing
mercedes2233
No, you did, you miserable character.
mercedes2233
No, you did, you miserable creature. Quid pro quo.
wwong888
jesus you are clearly mentally unstable...

Pages

Login

SCMP.com Account

or