The International Migrants Day (Dec. 18th) this year, also marks the 25th Anniversary of the rectification of the “International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families” (alas International Migrants Convention). Thus, we took to the streets to various consulate generals in order to fight for the rights of 300,000 foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong. We urge the government to introduce regulatory measures to prevent excessive agency fee and eliminate all discriminatory policies against foreign domestic workers.
As most foreign domestic workers are forced to pay a hefty agency fee as much as three to six months of their salary when their first come to Hong Kong, they are forced to work in order to pay off their debts. Meanwhile, since regulations on these agencies are negligible and the maximum punishment for agency fee overcharge is a mere $50,000 fine, it has no deterrent effect at all.
The International Convention on Migrant Workers stipulates equal treatment of migrant workers in all nations, in order to attain equivalent working conditions for all workers, migrant and local alike. However, foreign domestic workers are subjected to certain degrees of discrimination from various immigration and employment policies such as the “compulsory live-in arrangement’ and the “two-weeks repatriate rule”. Such policies also reveal that there is a long way for the Hong Kong Government to catch up with the international requirements in foreign domestic workers policies.
We believe the governments of the domestic workers exporting countries and the Hong Kong government should take responsibilities for the protection the migrant workers’ labour rights, as well as abolishing all discriminatory policies, and fulfill their international obligations to protect all workers in Hong Kong.
1. Hong Kong government to assume responsibilities to protect foreign domestic workers, and convey the Chinese government to sign the International Labour Convention Article 189: Convention on domestic workers;
2. Hong Kong Government to address the situation of foreign domestic workers, and the implementation of measures to protect foreign domestic workers, including:
(i) Abolish the “compulsory live-in arrangement’ and the “two-weeks repatriate rule”;
(ii) Pass legislation to strengthen investigation, prosecution, and regulations of agencies;
(iii) Stop discrimination against migrant workers in labor policies, to include foreign domestic workers into the minimum wage coverage, and future legislation on standard working hours should consider the situation of foreign domestic workers;
3. Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung should meet with relevant NGOs and unions as soon as possible to discuss how to improve the working conditions foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong