Thursday, October 1, 2015

Foreign domestic helpers in HK slam meager salary hike

HONG KONG—Foreign domestic workers in the territory expressed dismay over the meager increase in their minimum allowable wage (MAW), after the  government announced on Wednesday the 2.4-percent pay rate adjustment from HK$4,110 (P24,000) to HK$4,210 (P25,260).

Also, the HK government raised food allowance by 3.3 percent from HK$964 (P5812) to HK$995 (P5,999).

But leaders of migrant domestic workers' groups slammed the latest pay adjustments, saying these were below the HK$4,500 MAW and HK$1,600 in food allowance they sought in the petition that they filed in August.

The hikes in MAW and food allowance will apply to all foreign domestic workers' contracts signed on or after October 1.

In deciding the adjustments, the Hong Kong government said in a statement that it considered the city's economic and labor market situations last year "through a basket of economic indicators, including the relevant income movement and price change in this year's review."

"Moreover, the government has taken into account Hong Kong's future economic outlook in the near-term, as well as the need to strike a balance between affordability for employers on one hand and the livelihood of FDHs on the other in reaching the decision...," the statement added.

Under Hong Kong's Standard Employment Contract for hiring foreign domestic helpers, employers are required to provide FDHs (foreign domestic helpers) with free food.

At present, employers may choose between providing free food or giving food allowance to FDHs.

"The Government has also reviewed the food allowance in lieu of free food and decided to make an increase, having regard to the movement in the relevant consumer price index," the statement said.

Employers, however, may also choose to provide foreign domestic workers terms better than the prescribed MAW and food allowance, depending on their individual circumstances.

Eman Villanueva, chairman of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Hong Kong & Macau, said the adjustments are "loose change" considering the hike in the prices of goods and services in the city.

"Mismong sa pag-aaral ng Mission for Migrant Workers (MFMW) at ng Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM), higit sa kalahati ng sahod ng mga FDWs ay dito ginagastos sa Hong Kong.

"Ang 'baryang' dagdag na ito sa sahod natin ay nagpapakita din ng kung gaano kababa ang pagpapahalaga ng gobyerno sa ating trabaho at kontribusyon sa lipunan ng Hong Kong," he said in a post on Facebook.

The Asian Migrants' Coordinating Body(AMCB), meanwhile, said it will continue to lobby for better wages for domestic workers.

"The demand for a HK$4,500 minimum allowable wage has been forwarded to the government for the past three years and is already long overdue...The AMCB will continue to lobby and fight for a more substantial increase," the group said. —LBG, GMA News 

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