HK raises wage, food allowance for domestic workers
MANILA – Household service workers in Hong Kong will get an additional HK$90 in their salary after the Hong Kong government raised the minimum allowable wage (MAW) for foreign domestic workers to HK$4,010 per month.
The Hong Kong government also increased by HK$45 the food allowance of foreign domestic workers to HK$920 from the previous HK$875. The move was implemented to protect foreign domestic workers from exploitation.
"The $90 increase in minimum allowable wage and the increase in food allowance is, indeed, a very good news for household service workers who intend to work in Hong Kong," said Labor and Employment Acting Secretary Danilo Cruz.
The increase in MAW and food allowance will apply to contracts signed effective 01 October 2013, and thereafter.
However, labor attaché to Hong Kong Manuel Roldan said new contracts signed by employers and foreign domestic helpers until September 30, 2013 bearing the previous minimum allowable wages of HK$ 3,920 per month, and food allowance of HK$ 875 may still be accepted and processed by the Immigration Department of Hong Kong, provided that the application will be submitted to the said office on October 28, 2013.
"The Hong Kong government reviews the minimum allowable wage for foreign domestic helpers. After careful consideration of the general economic and employment situation in Hong Kong, as reflected through a basket of economic indicators, including relevant economic movement; price change; and labor market situation, as well as the affordability of employers, the Hong Kong saw there was a need to strike a balance between affordability of employers and the livelihoods of foreign domestic helpers, and decided to increase the minimum allowable wage for foreign domestic workers," Roldan said.
While it may be good news to some, others, like the Asian Migrants Coordinating Body (AMCB), thinks otherwise.
AMCB said the increase in the MAW and food allowance was much lower that what they had asked from the government. The group wanted a MAW of HK$4,500 and food allowance of HK$1,600.
"The social discrimination inherent in Hong Kong’s wage policies becomes all more evident when one considers that the HKD4,010 MAW breaks down to only $11/hour for FDWs who work an average of 12 hours, and only $8.2/hour for those working 16-hours a day," said the group.
Despite this, the AMCB said it is still grateful to grassroots migrant organizations that effectively campaigned for their rights and welfare in Hong Kong.
"It is due to their determination and unified stance that concrete gains have thus been made in the wage fight," the group said.