Domestic Workers Statement on the International Human Rights 2010

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Domestic Workers Rights are Human Rights;  Equal Treatment Now!

The 10th of December each year has been proclaimed as the International Human Rights Day by the United Nations.  Today, we, representatives of the Hong Kong Asian Domestic Workers Unions Federation (FADWU) are voicing demands to the Hong Kong government to be seriously concerned with the human rights situation of domestic workers and to take measures to ensure protection of workers rights and human rights of domestic workers.  In this way, all domestic workers, irrespective of their nationalities, will be able to achieve decent work.

There are approximately 330,000 domestic workers in Hong Kong currently.  Among them, majorities are from Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Nepalese and there are also local domestic workers.  They have been making tremendous contribution to our society.  Some people believe that Hong Kong cannot be without domestic workers for even one day!  However domestic workers continue to suffer low wage, employment insecurities, work injuries and lack retirement benefits.  There are two main reasons attributing to this.

First, domestic work has not been considered as work.  The fact that majority of domestic workers are women and migrant workers, has strengthened the belief that domestic work is cheap labour.

Secondly and more importantly, the basic human rights of domestic workers have been denied by the Hong Kong government when making legislations or policies.  The specific needs and working situations of domestic workers who are migrants or casual – in the case of local workers have been overlooked or even ignored.  There have even been cases of unequal treatment. The best known examples are the exclusion of domestic workers from the Mandatory Provident Fund scheme and the live-in domestic workers (who are mainly migrant domestic workers) from the Statutory Minimum Wage legislation.  Consequently domestic workers have been denied the basic human rights of retirement benefits and minimum wage protection.

Furthermore, domestic workers have fallen preys of unscrupulous recruitment agencies.  In particularly, many migrant domestic workers have to pay up to 7 months wages to agencies as recruitment fees.  This has increased the exploitation of domestic workers.

The longterm exploitations of domestic workers have finally become an agenda item of the international communities.  In 2011, the International Labour Organization (ILO) will discuss and consider adoption of an ILO Convention for Domestic Workers with a view to realize decent worker for domestic workers.  The government of the PRC has tentatively supported such move.

In Hong Kong, 6 domestic workers unions representing domestic workers from Indonesia, Philippines, Hong Kong, Thailand and Nepal have already joined together in November last to form FADWU to fight for recognition and protection of domestic workers rights.  In the next 6 months, we will campaign for the adoption of such ILO Convention.

Today, in commemoration of the International Human Rights Day, we demand the Hong Kong government to recognize domestic workers rights as human rights and take all necessary measures to ensure the followings:

  1. support an ILO Convention for Domestic Workers and reflect the position to the  government of the PRC;
  2. to ensure all domestic workers the right to access retirement benefits;
  3. to include all domestic workers in the Statutory Minimum Wage legislation;
  4. to enforce legislation and penalize all recruitment agencies which charge excessive fees from domestic workers;
  5. to scrap the NCS;
  6. to lift the ban on entry of domestic workers from Nepal.

Lastly, we call upon the Hong Kong government to meet with members of FADWU as soon as possible to formulate the position on the ILO Convention for Domestic Workers;

Submitted by:
Hong Kong Federation of Asian Domestic Workers Unions (FADWU) which includes:

  • Indonesian Migrant Workers Union;
  • Filipino Domestic Workers Union;
  • Hong Kong Domestic Workers General Union;
  • Thai Migrant Workers Union;
  • Overseas Domestic Workers Union; and
  • Union of Nepalese Domestic Workers in Hong Kong

For photos of the rally, please browse the website link here: http://picasaweb.google.com/fadwu.hk/DomesticWorkersRallyHumanRightsDay2010#

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