Migrant Workers speak to Equal Opportunities Commission: The plight of migrant domestic workers during the COVID-19 pandemic
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, there has been more discrimination faced by domestic workers. The media reported a case of immediate dismissal of a Filipino migrant domestic worker who arrived in Hong Kong with the rejection of accommodation arrangement by her employer for her quarantine. We have received as well cases of disability discrimination with the reason of COVID-19. The cases are mainly immediate dismissals due to worries of COVID-19. Some are unreasonable work and hygiene demand imposed on the domestic workers, e.g. an Indonesian domestic worker is ordered to clean toilets 15 times a day. Many are rejected to go out or to have day-offs by employers with the reason that the workers will be infected with COVID-19 if they go out on their day-offs.
Hong Kong government's compulsory quarantine policy is chaotic Live-in policy increases risks of infection
The FADWU has also got an enquiry from an MDW member whose employer is returning to Hong Kong with the family. They will undergo compulsory home quarantine as required. She has to work under the same roof and take care of the kids. She will feed the kids and take care of their bath. Physical close contacts with them are unavoidable. Another MDW member complains that her employer is returning to Hong Kong. Her employer's baby did not travel abroad, and thus it needs not to be in quarantine. However, the employer who is the mother, the baby and the MDW will all stay at the same home and cannot avoid close contact. All these situations and care work increase the risk of infections. MDWs are also responsible for going out to buy food for the employing families. The pubic health is under threat of infections as well.
Agents of change? Assessing Hong Kong employment agencies' compliance with the Code of Practice
After 1 year of implementation of 〈Code of Practice〉, did the employment agencies become more clean? Since Jan 2017, in the name of improving monitor mechanism to employment agencies, the labour department launched the 〈Code of Practice〉. In order to assess Hong Kong employment agencies compliance with CoP, sister of FADWU and KOBUMI formed a survey team, we interviewed 452 migrant domestic workers. Union sister have also conducted 18 secret recording at employment agencies, to investigate how much does employment agencies charge for agency fee.
Justice is borderless! High court gives green light to foreign domestic workers rights to testify with video calls.
High court ruled that even if foreign domestic workers have left Hong Kong, under certain conditions, they should be allowed to testify at Labour Tribunal hearings with Technology Court facilities, and be represented by unions.
An Outsider Living in Hong Kong
Nami was having her exam period at the Polytechnic University when I first interviewed her. We had 3 days before her final exam to review her 2 years’ experiences as an union organizer. She was 18 years old then, probably the youngest organizer in all HKCTU afflilated. She was one of the few organizers who love to show a smiling face and is optimistic. Having to deal with people as the job nature, she finds joy.
Human Trafficking: Close and Often Enough
On 1 August, HKCTU was invited to join a press conference, together with human rights lawyer Patricia Ho, organizations which are concerned about migrant domestic helpers’ rights and human trafficking, to inform the public about human trafficking in Hong Kong.
Between a Rock and a Hard Place - Philippine and Hong Kong governments fail to stop agencies - from charging migrant domestic workers illegal fees
Filipino migrant domestic workers are charged illegal fees by unscrupulous employment agencies in both the Philippines and Hong Kong. The practice is widespread and government systems to prevent such illegal activities are not fit for purpose. As a result, many migrant domestic workers have little choice but to pay these exorbitant fees and are heavily indebted, making it difficult to leave exploitative and abusive employers.
Between a Rock and a Hard Place, a report and short documentary film published today by the Progressive Labor Union of Domestic Workers - Hong Kong (PLUDWHK) and Hong Kong Federation of Asian Domestic Workers Union (FADWU), documents the illegal activities of employment agencies in the Philippines and Hong Kong, and the failure of both governments to protect the rights of Filipino migrant domestic workers.
"Our research clearly demonstrates that significant numbers of agencies are systematically charging Filipino migrant domestic workers fees well in excess of the legal maximum. Yet despite this, very few are ever charged and prosecuted in the Philippines or Hong Kong," said Shiella Estrada, Chair of the PLUDW-HK.
Respect Migrant Workers’ Contributions Fight for Migrant Workers’ Rights
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.