Stop Violence againest Migrant Workers! Protect Migrant Domestic Workers as workers!

Statement on International Migrant Day

This Thursday (18th December) was International Migrant Day. Migrant Domestic Workers’ situation is concerned by worldwide. Yet Hong Kong Goverment turn a eye blind on more than 300,000 migrant domestic workers who contribute their lives to Hong Kong. On International Migrant Day, we urge Hong Kong Government to stop all violent policies againest migrant workers.

Migrant domestic workers have been restricted by Hong Kong Government policies. Under “mandatory live-in policy”, migrant workers who are abused by employers would be afraid to complain. Many surveys show that migrant domestic workers were abused vocally, physically or sexually. Under “2-week rule”, once the worker end their contracts with bosses, even the employers fail to pay wage or no holidays, migrant workers would only have 14 days to find new jobs. Even if they get extended visa because they file cases in Labour Tribunal, they cannot seek for jobs. It would stop migrant workers to complain because their and their families’ livelihood cannot be maintained. Hong Kong Government connive illegal employment agencies to charge excessive agency fees. Migrant domestic workers can only keep silent about it. Labour Department rare to investigate and prosecute illegal agencies. It indirectly encourges illegal employers and agencies to deprive their holidays or keep their passports. To make it worse, Immigration Department ban some workers’ visas if they are complained as “job-hopping” without objective criteria.

After the well-knowed case of Indonesian worker Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, Hong Kong had been famous to the World as "the city of modern slavery”. Matthew Cheung, the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, has made promise to punish illegal employment agencies, and set criteria to restrict agencies. However, until now, we never see any improving on the policies. Labour and Welfare Bureau refused to listen to unions, NGOs options. In the reverse, Immigration Departement act fast when received some employers groups complain on so-called “job-hopping” workers. We can see that, Hong Kong Government did not learn a lesson after Erwiana’s case, but further, more constraint on migrant domestic workers.

These all have shown that migrant domestic workers in Hong Kong are in vulnerable situation.

We demand:

1. Hong Kong Government to take the responsibility to protect migrant workers’ rights. And urge Chinese Government to ratify ILO Convention 189.
2. Hong Kong Government should implement policies to protect migrant domestic workers, such as:
(i) cancel “mandatory live-in” policy, and “2-week rule”;
(ii) set criteria to monitor employment agencies, investigate and prosecute illegal agencies;
(iii) stop policies that discriminating migrant workers, include domestic workers into the protection of minimum wage and standard working hour which will soon be legislated.
3. Matthew Cheung, the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, should meet with us and other unions and NGOs who concern about migrant domestic workers.

Hong Kong Federation of Asian Domestic Workers Unions

21-12-2014

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