1 May 2017
May Day Statement of AMCB (Asian Migrants Coordinating Body)- IMA (International Migrants Alliance)
*AMCB and IMA are lead convenors and coordinators of One Billion Rising Hong Kong since 2013. They are made up of Migrant Domestic Workers’s (MDW) from Indonesia, the Philippines, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka
To HK Govt: Rights and Justice for All MDWs
Increase our wages. Regulate our working hours. Ensure our protection, our health and our safety.
This is our call in the Asian Migrants’ Coordinating Body (AMCB-IMA) to the Hong Kong government as we join our local working brothers and sisters here in Hong Kong in commemorating the 2017 International Labor Day.
The working conditions of foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong are worsening and our rights remain in peril. Today, we protest the deaths of migrant workers and the death of migrant rights in Hong Kong.
Perceived above average and livable by the HK government yet the HK$4,310 wage of migrant domestic workers (MDWs) in Hong Kong is barely enough to cope with the rising cost of living both in Hong Kong and our respective home countries. Increases to our wages are piecemeal and whimsical – we remain at the mercy of a non-transparent minimum allowable wage mechanism crafted by the HK government for MDWs. As workers with families to provide, do we not deserve better wages?
Our demand for regulation of working hours for all MDWs remains on deaf ears. Majority of, if not all, MDWs work an average of 12-16 hours a day. We work six days a week and many of us do not have sufficient time for rest or sleep. Don’t all workers deserve regulated hours for work and enough time for rest and recovery?
In recent months we have read of fellow MDWs’ deaths – either by suicide, accident or succumbing to a grave health condition. In 2016 alone, more than 137 MDWs in Hong Kong died due to illnesses and accidents. This causes alarm to us. What conditions are there in Hong Kong that contribute to these deaths?
While we welcome the HK government’s positive response to our series of actions and demand to ban exterior window cleaning task for MDWs, we see the many problems caused by regressive and anti-migrant policies such as the Mandatory Live-In Conditions, vague provisions on “decent” accommodations for MDWs, the Two-Week Rule, and the arbitrary “punishment” for suspected “job-hoppers” among others.
Domestic work is not considered work in Hong Kong and hence domestic workers here do not receive the much-deserved recognition and protection of their rights and welfare. Shouldn’t the HK government, as a measure towards recognising domestic work as work, ratify the ILO Domestic Workers Convention (ILO C189) and domesticate laws following the convention?
We raise these demands to the HK government as we extend our solidarity and support to our local brothers and sisters here who too demand the same – wage increase, regulated working hours and protection of their rights as workers. We are no different from each other, we are both workers. We both suffer albeit in varying level and degree from the neoliberal policies of the HK government and we both need to struggle and fight.
We challenge the HK government to take concrete steps to uplift the conditions and recognise the rights and dignity of both migrant and local workers.
We will continue mobilising our fellow migrant workers and linking up with the working people of Hong Kong as we collectively wage campaigns until our just demands are met. Let the lessons of past victories of trade unions and workers’ movements be our inspiration in continuing this struggle and building our movement.