Monday, 23 May 2011

Asian migrants say ‘OK to 4K’

AMCB unveils plans for wage hike campaign
Asian Migrants' Coordinating Body (AMCB)
Press Release

22 May 2011

“Considering we never had a wage increase since 1998, a HK$140 increase to our wage level more than one decade ago is a just call. We say ‘OK to 4K’.”
This was the call of migrant workers under the Asian Migrants Coordinating Body as they launch their campaign for a wage hike in a press conference today.

The group is seeking for HK$4000 monthly wage for the city’s more than 250,000 foreign maids.
The AMCB composed of Filipino, Indonesian, Thai, Nepali and Sri Lankan organizations and union is the foremost Asian group seeking a wage increase for foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong. “While the economy of Hong Kong recovers, the recovery of the wage of FDWs is going at a snail’s pace. 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,” said Eni Lestari, spokesperson of AMCB. Lestari added that the steady rise in prices of food and other commodities in Hong Kong due to inflation – now pegged at 4.6% - make 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. We our 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 Statutory Minimum Wage, the AMCB is 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. 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,” Lestari challenged.

In the press conference, leaders of the AMCB unveiled their plans to push their demand. These include forwarding of a submission to the Executive Committee and requests for dialogues, 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 petition signing 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 concluded.

Note: Our apologies for the sudden change of venue for the press conference this morning because of the bad weather. The press conference went ahead together with the the launching of the signature campaign of the AMCB calling for the increase of the minimum allowable wage (MAW) for foreign domestic workers (FDWs) to at least $4,000 per month.

At the same time, leaders of the AMCB announced that they will hold a series of protest actions - [1] June 1, protest action and submission of petition to the Executive Council outside the CGO. This will coincide with the opening of the 100th session of the International Labour Conference (ILC) in Geneva, Switzerland where a convention for domestic workers is expected to be approved (AMCB will send Eman C. Villanueva, Vice Chairman of the Filipino migrant Workers' Union (FMWU), an affiliate of the HK Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU), to the ILC in Geneva to raise the issues of FDWs in Hong Kong), [2] will mobilize thousands of FDWs to join the annual July 1st HK people's action from Victoria Park to CGO, [3] massive protest action on July 24, to reiterate the demand for $4,000 MAW before the end of the annual wage review of the government expected in August.

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