Friday, 1 February 2013

HK’s move to abolish levy is migrant workers’ win, says APMM

It is a victory of the struggles of migrant workers in Hong Kong!
This is the statement that the Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM) issued as the Hong Kong government announced in its 2013 policy address the intention to abolish the levy for Hong Kong-based people who want to employ foreign domestic workers (FDWs).

The levy pertains to the HK$9,600 tax imposed by the Hong Kong government in 2003 on anyone who would want to hire an FDW. The levy was announced six months after the said government cut the wages of FDWs by HK$400. The said levy was suspended in 2008.
According to the APMM, the HK government should not only attribute the levy’s abolition to easing the burden of families hiring FDWs but also to the FDWs themselves who have launched a resounding campaign to abolish the levy.

The APMM recalled the campaign launched and steadfastly conducted by FDWs in Hong Kong under the banner of the Asian Migrants Coordinating Body (AMCB) and the International Migrants’ Alliance (IMA) to increase the wages of FDWs and abolish the said levy. The AMCB is a Hong Kong-wide network of migrant organizations of various nationalities while the IMA is an international alliance of grassroots migrant organizations and their support groups.

The APMM, a regional center working with migrants and advocating for migrants’ rights, said that while the action was long overdue, the Hong Kong government took political will to finally put an end to the levy. It challenged the said government to do the same thing to other policies that are oppressive of migrants and their rights.

“Hong Kong has policies that restrict, discriminate and violate the rights of migrant workers, particularly foreign domestic workers. What the government has decided to do with the levy, they can also do with all these anti-migrant policies,” said Ramon Bultron, director of the APMM, pertaining to policies like the New Conditions of Stay (or the Two-Week Rule) and the Minimum Allowable Wage policy, among others.

The APMM further challenged other governments in the region to do the same, naming a few policies and practices that need to be abolished, like the Employment Permit System of South Korea, the Visa 457 of Australia, and the Kafala sponsorship system of many Gulf countries. #


(Source: APMM website, www.apmigrants.org)

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