Maids to protest if $4,000 wage not met

Published by rudy Date posted on May 23, 2011

Leaders of eight associations warned yesterday they will escalate their protests if the minimum wage of domestic helpers is not increased from HK$3,580 to “at least HK$4,000.”

The Asian Migrants’ Coordinating Body, comprising unions of domestic helpers from the Philippines, Indonesia, Nepal, Thailand and Sri Lanka, said it will begin a campaign to collect at least 50,000 signatures from the more than 250,000 helpers in the city.

The body will also stage a protest outside the Executive Council on June 1, the opening day of the 100th session of the International Labor Conference in Geneva, Switzerland, where some of its representatives will speak about the situation in Hong Kong.

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Before the government’s annual wage review for domestic helpers can be completed – which is expected in August – the group will mobilize thousands of members to join the annual July 1 rally organized by the pan- democrats.

This will be followed by a massive protest on July 24 by the group to re- enforce its demand.

The group said the wage increase for domestic helpers is moving “at a snail’s pace” when compared to the economic recovery and inflation rate.

“It’s high time the government gives us a real wage increase,” said Eni Lestari, a spokeswoman for the group.

“We are geared to fight to get an okay to our HK$4,000 demand. Enough of the feel-good and pathetic wage hikes. We need a genuine wage increase.”

She added the cost of food and other necessities has increased 4.6 percent, making it hard for foreign domestic helpers to make ends meet.

Lestari said they will not rule out seeking a judicial review as they are excluded from the statutory minimum wage of HK$28 per hour.

Joseph Law, chairman of the Hong Kong Employers of Overseas Domestic Helpers Association, maintained an increase in wages to HK$4,000 would result in some employers refusing to rehire domestic helpers when their contracts expire.

“Our survey supports a wage increase of about 2.8 percent, after considering the wage increase for Hongkongers in general is between 1.5 percent and 3.3 percent,” Law said. –Diana Lee

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