• Fri
  • Aug 22, 2014
  • Updated: 7:56am

Foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong

Foreign domestic workers make up around 3 per cent of the Hong Kong population. In 2013, there were some 320,000 foreign domestic helpers in Hong Kong, of which 50 per cent were from the Philippines, 47 per cent from Indonesia, and the rest from Thailand, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Hong Kong law states that such workers must reside with their employers. Their wages are subject to a statutory minimum of HK$4,010 per month from September 30 last year. There have been several high-profile court cases in which domestic workers have alleged torture and abuse at the hands of their employers. According to a 2013 report by Amnesty International, Indonesian migrant domestic workers are at risk of serious human and labour rights violations in Hong Kong.

NewsHong Kong

'We are workers, not slaves!' Hundreds of maids march on Hong Kong government HQ

'We are workers, we are not slaves', chants crowd as two groups meet at government HQ

PUBLISHED : Monday, 10 March, 2014, 4:28am
UPDATED : Monday, 10 March, 2014, 4:38pm

Hundreds of Indonesian maids marched through the streets yesterday to call for better labour rights - with some likening their working conditions to slavery.

They also demanded Jakarta's action to crack down on unscrupulous employment agencies, which they say charge maids exorbitant fees equivalent to seven months' pay.

Waving flags and placards, the maids chanted slogans like: "We are workers, we are not slaves" as they marched from Victoria Park to the Indonesian consulate in Causeway Bay and on to the government headquarters in Admiralty.

Outside the headquarters, they were joined by a group of domestic helpers from the Philippines who were also staging a rally for better labour rights.

The march, which comes after a series of cases featuring allegations of maid abuse, also marked International Women's Day, celebrated globally on Saturday.

Organisers claimed 1,000 maids took part; police said the turnout was 410.

A spokesman for the protest organisers, Eni Lestari, of Asian Migrants' Co-ordinating Body, blamed the government for rejecting the maids' demands. They want to scrap rules requiring them to live with their employers and to leave the city within two weeks of contract expiry.

Addressing the protesters, Lestari said: "Hong Kong remains a hotbed of social exclusion and policies that put our livelihood, security, safety, and even lives, at risk.

"We have suffered too long. Hong Kong officials ignore our rights. They ignore our dignity, and they ignore our contribution to Hong Kong's economy."

Public concern has grown amid a series of maid abuse allegations. Indonesian maids Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, Tutik Lestari Ningish and Nurhasanah claim to have been abused by the same employer.

Another maid, Anis Andriyani alleges abuse by another employer. The accused will appear in court later this month and in April, respectively.

Sringatin, of the Association of Indonesian Migrant Workers, said the live-in rule deterred maids from filing complaints.

"If they do so, they could lose their job and they would not even have a place to live in," she said.

Foreign domestic helpers have long been a contentious issue. While unions say physical abuse and sexual harassment are common, some employers say maids hop between jobs to collect flight money.


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Helpers in Hong Kong have 'guts'. They show a courage that is beyond the comprehension of middle class families here. Every day they fight for their children and their families back home. They have a simple choice- put up with the abuse or quit. If they quit then their families lose so they bear the verbal, physical and sexual abuse. It takes real courage to put up with what they put up with. What a pity Hong Kong is a city of sad individuals who bury their heads in the sand and ignore what is going on around them. Asia's world city- NOT.
If you don't like you employer, have the guts to quit! If you're employer abuses you, have the guts to report it!
But if debt, out of pocket costs and additional admin costs clouds any judgement...then of course nothing will improve.
Meoli, so you are placing the blame on helpers for being abused? Are women to blame for being raped? It's time you moved out of the 19th century. We live in the 21 century and attitudes like yours have no place here!
You've got it wrong, it's not about blame. It's about taking a stance. It's about fighting for what you believe in. It's having courage and owning what's yours. You'll never win if even taking half a step forward is compromised.
Yes, it's the 21 century and it's about empowerment. Where have you been?
This might be the 21 century in other parts of the world, but here in Hong Kong official attitudes to helpers are still back in the dark ages. A helper who had previously worked for Erwiana's employer laid a complaint of physical abuse with the police. No charges were brought. Go figure why helpers have no trust in the system. But this suits some people doesn't it!
Helpers are workers, not slaves, but many employers seem to want slaves. Some helpers are expected to start work before 6am and still be working at 11pm. Then the employer wants the helper to work before she leaves the home on her rest day and then again when she returns home (denying helpers their legal right for 24 hours rest). This is the real reason that there is so much opposition from employer groups to any change in the live out rule.
'Some employers say maids hop between jobs to collect flight money home.' What a ridiculous claim. The cost of a flight home is about HK$1000. It takes at least 6 weeks before a helper can take up new employment during which time she would have lost HK$6000 in salary, plus she would have had to pay for her own food and accommodation during this time and have left Hong Kong. How can any intelligent person believe these employer claims.
Not only the maids, many hk people are living in cage/coffin homes, see today's article on ache home, even middle class are living in shoes boxes....hk is a town of slavary that people jus accept it...


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