Exclusion of foreign domestic workers in new HK salary law, enslavement—group

Antipolo City, July 20, 2010—The Asian Migrants’ Coordinating Body or AMCB, a Hong Kong-based alliance of foreign domestic workers, assails the latest decision of the HK government not to include foreign domestic workers (FDWs) in the recent salary hike.

Calling it “slavery, marginalization, and discrimination,” the new salary law had excluded FDWs in the statutory minimum wage or State-imposed minimum pay for the workers in the former British colony.

Dolores Balladres, AMCB spokesperson in an e-mail to the CBCPNews said that they have been fighting for the inclusion of FDWs in the new statutory wage law, however the said provision was voted out by the members of the HK Legislative Council (LegCo).

The Filipina migrant leader said, this decision will affect more than 240,000 live-in domestic workers.

“Both local and migrants worked hard to push for a legislated minimum as a measure of protection for workers especially in trying times. This legislation is supposed to be a victory of the workers in Hong Kong but the Executive Committee and pro-capitalist members of the LegCo have derailed this victory through our exclusion as well as advocating for a less than livable rate for the minimum wage,” she said.

The voting against the inclusion of FDWs in the new statutory wage happened despite the petitions of different non-governmental organizations and labor unions in HK, Balladres said.

An outright discrimination

Balladres believes that the exclusion means reduction of the status of FDWs as workers to slaves.

“Legislators who voted for our exclusion should be ashamed for they just revealed their real nature as anti-migrants, discriminatory and champions of slavery. They do not deserve the title of honorable for there is no honor in being slave-makers and promoters of the marginalization of FDWs,” stated Balladres.

She also assailed the pan-democrats and some “yellow” union leaders who are part of the LegCo for voting against to that “substantive” provision of the new salary law.

She said that these politicians and anti-labor union leaders who are posing as champions of democracy and human rights, “mouth democracy but trample on the economic rights and social rights against discrimination of those who already receive less in this society.”

They call themselves workers but allow other fellow workers to be treated less. Migrants and the HK people know who you are now: you are a shame to democracy and working class solidarity,” Balladares remarked.

Will remain low-salaried

AMCB and other migrant workers’ alliances of Filipinos, Indonesians, and other races had been lobbying for that inclusion for a long time, since an FDW only receives a measly HK$3,580 (US$460.40/€356.28/P21,376.55) in gross salary per month or without the necessary deductions such as insurance contributions, taxes, etc.

“The exclusion meant that FDW wage will remain imprisoned by that Minimum Allowable Wage or MAW, which is unjust, not transparent and arbitrary,” Balladres said.

“Being under MAW, means that our wages will remain not secured and vulnerable to the whims of the HK government who never put the interest of FDWs as one of their priorities. To them, we are disposable workers whose rights can always be discarded,” Balladres added.

However, the AMCB members said that they will take on all available means to challenge the decision of the LegCo, including the possible filing of a judicial review against the exclusion.

Balladres also said that they will also send protest letters and petition to the international community including the International Labor Organization and the United Nations to expose the discrimination against and slave-like treatment of FDWs by the HK government. (Written for the CBCP News Service, http://www.cbcpnews.com)