Thursday, 2 June 2011

Wage hike for HK maids approved; workers say it's not enough

Nheslaine Eval, The Philippine Online Chronicles (2nd June 2011)

Foreign maids in Hong Kong have voiced their discontent over the country's newly approved minimum allowable wage (MAW), which they say is still too low compared to previous MAW levels.

The Hong Kong Executive Council (Cabinet) approved the HK$160 (about P887) increase in MAW, bringing the total amount to $3,740 (about P20,700) from the $3,580 (about P19,800) which was set back in July 2008. The Cabinet also added a $25 increase in the food allowance for migrant maids and nannies (foreign domestic workers [FDWs]).

Over 100,000 Filipino domestic workers in Hong Kong are set to benefit from the increase, but Filipino belonging to the Asian Migrants Coordinating Body-HK said they are not satisfied with the pay hike as it is still lower than the $3,860 (about P21,400) MAW back in 1998.

“The annual inflation has already eroded our wage and the increase in prices of commodities that we buy and services that we use has made it impossible for us to make ends meet," said Indonesian Eni Lestari, a spokesperson of the group. "The economic recovery of Hong Kong has not yet benefited domestics and a $4,000 MAW only actually means a $140 hike from our $3,860 monthly wage 13 years ago.”

“We shall continue to campaign for a significant wage increase and against the seriously flawed process of determining the [MAW],” said another group spokesperson Dolores Balladares, after they submitted a petition on Wednesday for a HK$4,000 minimum monthly wage.

Balladares called the MAW process is “unjust” since the FDWs were not given time to make a case for their demand. She added the process just did not protect the interest of the workers but keep them “as one of the lowest-paid workers in Hong Kong.”

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