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Hong Kong people must not be misled by myths propagated by the Liberal Party. We are local support groups and individuals advocating on behalf of migrant domestic workers’ rights. Today we issue this joint statement to call for better understanding on issues of migrant domestic workers.
The “Liberal Party Concern Group on Foreign Domestic Helpers” and “Support Group for Hong Kong Employers with Foreign Domestic Helper” is organizing a protest today. They demand Hong Kong government allow employers to have the rights of immediate dismissal of migrant domestic workers. This violates the principle of equality and the spirit of the rule of law. They also commonly discriminate based on race and sex discrimination. They are ignoring the true cause of the problem and violating basic principles of labour law.
Labour Law provides fair rules on termination of contract for both employers and employees
Migrant domestic workers and their employers are protected by Employment Ordinance. Both employers and workers need to provide a notice period or payment in lieu of notice in case of termination of contract. The Standard Contract sets the notice period of termination of contract as one month. If any misconduct is made by either party of employer and worker, the other party is allowed to immediately terminate the contract without notice (Sec. 9 and 10, Employment Ordinance). The present law stipulates the same period of notice for termination of contract for both employers and workers. The termination by notice allows both parties the time to seek for a new job or a new worker, making the Liberal Party and the employers’ group demand to allow immediate dismissal of workers unnecessary and a clear violation of basic labour law.
Immediate dismissal would lead to racial discrimination, provoking further abuse.
The Liberal Party and the “Support Group” suggest that they should have the right to immediately dismiss a worker. This is not only a violation of fair period of notice for termination of contract, but racial and sex discrimination when this is impose only on migrant domestic workers. This will certainly provoke more abuses and exploitation by employers and employment agencies. Employment agencies will find it easier to blood-suck more agency fee from migrant domestic workers.
“Job-hopping” is a myth
The Liberal Party and the “Support Group” accuse migrant domestic workers of intentional “job-hopping”. This is a lie. Migrant domestic workers bear higher cost for an employment than any other workers in Hong Kong. They are often in indentured servitude to agency fees. They are restricted by the “Two-week rule” which limits their rights already. Every change of employer leads to another sum of debt for agency fees in addition to the unfinished loan payment of agency fees. Migrant domestic workers won’t “job-hop” for a payment of one-month’s notice and flight fare when agency fees far exceed this. TK Lai, the Secretary for Security Bureau, stated that the number of suspicious cases of “job-hopping” is only around a thousand. This is only the number of “suspicious cases” not the number of workers who actually changed employer mid contract. The Liberal Party and the “Support Group” are ignoring the data and trying to confuse the public. They are also slandering the 320,000 migrant domestic workers who work hard for Hong Kong.
Seek the truth: Agencies are causing problems. Don’t blame scapegoats.
Hong Kong government has not been regulating and monitoring well the employment agencies. There is a lack of public education. Employers and migrant domestic workers are left with little knowledge about their rights and responsibility. Consequently, employment agencies are controlling over employers and workers by providing wrong and confusing information. If there is a conflict between employers and workers, employers change workers and then the agencies can charge again from both sides for agency fees. Agencies benefit from the fight between workers and employers. Is this something the Liberal Party and the Support group want to see?
There have been continuous cases of abuse on migrant domestic workers, one after another. Unscrupulous employment agencies are still running their business with fraudulent practices and abuses. We call for Hong Kong citizens not to be confused by the wrongful accusations against migrant domestic workers by the Liberal Party and the Support Group, but to know the truth. We demand the government tightens regulation and monitoring of employment agencies. We demand the government tighten implementation of law and order, to revoke licenses of agencies who conduct unlawful acts such as overcharging agency fees and confiscation of workers’ identity documents.
Amnesty International Hong Kong
League of Social Democrats
Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions
Hong Kong Domestic Workers General Union
Hong Kong Women Workers' Association
Open Door HK Helpers Campaign
Hong Kong Federation of Students
Justice & Peace Commission of The H.K. Catholic Diocese
Hong Kong Federation of Student Union Social Movement resources Centre (autonomous 8a)
Migrants solidarity Committee of autonomous 8a
New Arrival Women League
Asia Monitor Resource Centre
The Association for the advancement of Feminism