Thursday, 23 February 2012

Court case this week on right to abode

Protesters hold banners against the ruling allowing domestic workers to apply for residency
Residents have voiced their concerns about allowing foreign domestic workers to apply for residency

Filipina Teresita Herrera Blanco has worked in Hong Kong for more than 16 years, cooking, cleaning and babysitting as a domestic helper for a local family.

She says her employers treat her well but should they decide they no longer need her, she would have just two weeks to find another job or she must return to the Philippines.

Unlike Hong Kong's expatriate bankers, lawyers and teachers, who can apply for permanent residency after seven years, maids aren't eligible to apply for the right of abode, no matter how long they have worked in the city.

However, a high-profile case being heard by Hong Kong's courts this week could result in Ms Blanco, and tens of thousands like her, being able to settle here.

But this prospect is causing a public outcry in Hong Kong and illustrates the struggle foreign domestic workers throughout Asia face as they strive for better working conditions.

"I love my country," Ms Blanco tells BBC News on her one day off a week. "But it could be a good opportunity."

Read more here

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