• Sun
  • Oct 26, 2014
  • Updated: 1:05am
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
 

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  • Yes: 18%
  • No: 82%
1 Oct 2013
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Total number of votes recorded: 318

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.

 

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34

This article is now closed to comments

EHI
That scene at the HSBC building is perhaps one of the most horrific thing I have ever come across in Hong Kong.
carmeledwin
Agree. They forgot that in Canada, the helpers have to pay for their own food and lodgings, they have to pay Canadian Income Tax. They are liable for their own medical insurance. They also have to pay VAT for purchases. In Canada, they will also have to have a car, and pay for petrol etc, for public transportation is not like Hong Kong, and often they work and live far away from downtown. Not to mention that in some parts of Canada, you get -30 Degrees in winter (with wind chill factor taken into account).
chuchu59
What a post! Confrontational, racist and anti-religious all moulded into one. I am no expat but while there are some that I personally dislike there are loads of them that are reasonable and contribute a lot to society. Take your hatred somewhere else mate.
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.
kcwp
That is only if the person below the poverty line doesn't have a job. Most likely they do have some kind of cash in hand job that doesn't need to pay tax. Let's face it, helpers pay is a joke, it's just that HK people are cheap and look down on our Asian cousins.
ejmciii
Perhaps if your means do not allow you to pay an extra 90 HKD per month to someone who cooks your means, washes your clothes, takes care of the elderly and kids, then you should not have a helper and instead save your pennies. Cheap buggers. You should be ashamed of yourselves, but my guess is a feeling of shame and compassion are not in your DNA.

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