Hong Kong is being urged to offer more protection to domestic workers after they won international recognition last month that they are no different from other workers. Migrant workers' unions are hailing as a major breakthrough the decision in principle by the International Labour Conference to recognise these workers - essentially domestic helpers - and want Hong Kong to offer them basic rights. 'It was a major breakthrough that we have fought for many decades,' said Sringatin, chairwoman of Indonesian Migrant Workers' Union, who uses only one name. 'The International Labour Organisation finally agreed that domestic workers were no different to other workers that they should also be entitled to the rights enjoyed by other workers.' However, a final decision on adopting the policy will not be made until next year's conference and unions recognise they still have work to do. 'We still have to win the support of 80 per cent of the governments to encourage the adoption,' Wiwin Purwanti, chairwoman of the Coalition for Migrants Rights, said. Though India and Bangladesh disapproved of it, the United States, Brazil and China had said they would offer their approval. The unions said that while domestic helpers in Hong Kong were not treated as badly as those elsewhere, they still generally worked 16 hours a day and would not be covered by the minimum wage law to be implemented next year. 'Every worker would love to fight for a wage increase but when we fight for the coverage of a minimum wage for domestic workers, we only want the protection,' said Ario Adityo of the Asian Migrant Centre. 'We are not saying that our wage should be increased by more than 100 per cent - that is not realistic,' he added, referring to what would happen if they were paid by the hour. While the current minimum wage for domestic helpers is HK$3,580 a month, even if they were paid the suggested statutory minimum, their wage would be only about HK$4,000 with the deductions for accommodation and food. Purwanti said domestic workers around the world were vulnerable to unequal, unfair and often abusive treatment since existing international labour standards did not offer adequate guidance on how to ensure meaningful protection. She said that millions of these workers endured conditions that were akin to slavery, with low wages, no holidays and no social security.