Local unions fighting against traps and exploitations of the imported workers in Hong Kong

Local unions fighting against traps and exploitations of the imported workers in Hong Kong

An interview with Cheng Ching Fai, Community Care and Nursing Home Workers General Union

“The Imported labour in Hong Kong are working in a lawless world”, Brother Fai concluded his observations and experiences from workplace organizing in community care and nursing home sector which also apply to other sectors in Hong Kong.

“There is no mechanism to ensure labour protections for imported workers in Hong Kong. According to my experiences in helping the imported workers in elderly homes or nursing home in Hong Kong. Their wages are delayed and even unpaid. They work overtime unreasonably without any compensation. Many of them work 18-20 hours per day”, said by brother Cheng from CNWGU. That’s why the local employers tried to create difficulties of hiring staff locally in order to import workers from mainland China.

The Community Care and Nursing Home Workers General Union (hereafter: CNWGU) arranged for exco members to do undercover job applicants for investigating the recruitment process of various nursing homes. They found that the actual requirements of those nursing home were different from job advertisement. For example, the applicants were asked to accept 12 working hours per day instead of 9 hours per day which was written in the job advertisement. This was one of the tricks that how the local employers discouraged local applicants to apply the posts so that they could hire imported workers to take up these harsh positions.

According to brother Cheng, the workings conditions of local workers are not monitored as well, so no matter local or migrants have to defend their own labour rights actively. However, the imported workers do not have fair access to the information of labour rights protection in Hong Kong due to the irresponsibility of the government.

Information sessions by Labour Department for imported workers are nearly existed in name only. “The imported workers are supposed to attend this information session before signing employment contracts. However, the Labour Department makes it optional to the imported labour and even accept employers’ representatives to attend the sessions for their employees” Brother Cheng criticized this loose arrangement not only fail to respect the right to information of labour rights but also adversely affect the them to join or to form unions.

Brother Cheng said CNWGU have been always concerned the exploitations of imported workers in Hong Kong. He himself follows many complaint cases from individual members and provided these information to HKCTU for submission formal complaints to ILO concerning the failures of HK government in protection labour rights of migrants and imported labour. “We are worried that the HK government continues to tolerate these exploitations of migrant workers and to expand the unprotected importation of labour to more sectors including public owned services.” Brother Cheng stressed that both local and migrants should join hand in hand to fight against the unjust employment system and to ask for stronger law enforcement.