Filipino maids in HK ask for a wage hike

Published by rudy Date posted on May 23, 2011

MANILA, Philippines—Noting that their last wage increase was more than a decade ago, an alliance of migrant workers, including Filipinos, in Hong Kong on Monday asked the government to increase their minimum monthly salary to at least P22,000.

The Asian Migrants Coordinating Body said it was seeking a HK$140-wage hike for the city’s 250,000 foreign maids to increase their minimum salary to HK$4,000 (or P22,240) a month.

The group added that the last wage increase for foreign domestic workers (FDWs) was approved by the former Crown colony’s government in 1998.

“While the economy of Hong Kong recovers, the recovery of the wage of FDWs is going at a snail’s pace,” AMCB spokesperson Eni Lestari said in a statement.

“After the HK$190 wage cut in 1999 and the HK$400 slash in 2003, we have been given back merely half of the total cuts in our salary. It is a high time for the HK government to give us a real wage increase,” she added.

The AMCB composed of Filipino, Indonesian, Thai, Nepali and Sri Lankan organizations and union is the foremost Asian group seeking a wage increase for FDWs in Hong Kong.

Lestari said the “steady rise in prices of food and other commodities” in Hong Kong—with inflation now pegged at 4.6 percent—made it hard for FDWs to sustain their needs.

“The sporadic and minimal wage hikes given to us in the past—only four times in 12 years—are not enough to make us cope with the soaring prices of goods in Hong Kong,” Lestari said.

“We are contributors to the economic recovery of Hong Kong and we are also part of the Hong Kong consumers. An economic relief for FDWs is much needed and it is needed now,” she added.

Due to the exclusion of FDWs from the city’s Statutory Minimum Wage, the AMCB said it was aiming for a more positive result in the review of the Minimum Allowable Wage.

“The Hong Kong government must now show its good faith to the hundreds of thousands of FDWs in Hong Kong,” Lestari said.

“For a long time, we have been treated as disposable commodities whose wage is arbitrarily, and without transparency, decided by the government. We ask them to fill in our shoes and see how it is difficult to survive with the current wage level we have,” she added.

In the press conference, AMCB leaders said they would submit a proposal to city government leaders, hold a series of mass actions leading to the expected release of the results of the MAW review in the third quarter of the year, and launch a petition among different nationalities to be submitted to their respective governments to ask for “proactive support to lobby the HK government for a wage increase.”

Additionally, Lestari reported that they will pursue a judicial review against the exclusion of FDWs from the SMW.

“We are geared to fight to get an OK to our 4K demand. Enough of the feel-good and pathetic wage hikes. We need a genuine wage increase,” Lestari said. –Philip C. Tubeza, Philippine Daily Inquirer

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