In Hong Kong we pride ourselves on the Rule of Law and treating others fairly. Yet the women who come here as domestic workers are systematically exploited by unscrupulous agencies and employers. Many are lied to about their jobs and wages, charged excessive illegal fees, paid less than the Minimum Allowable Wage, and have their passport confiscated. All these practices are against the law and can amount to trafficking for forced labour. This is a type of modern day slavery.
Due to the mandatory live-in requirement abusive employers can hide their crimes and workers often feel they have no where to escape to. High levels of debt, no passport and fear of losing their jobs also can keep them in an abusive work situation. Those who do escape and make a complaint are unable to work and often go home instead of trying to claim unpaid wages or take those who abused them to court. As a result very few employers or agencies are ever punished for breaking the law. This lack of punishment has lead to abuses on a massive scale. The government has known about this situation for years but has refused to act despite calls by local activists, trade unions, the UN and ILO.
We think this is wrong and think you will too. That is why we think its time for a change. This campaign calls on the government to stop unscrupulous recruitment agencies from exploiting domestic workers by;
- Establishing a robust, proactive body that monitors, investigates and punishes agencies that charge excessive fees, confiscate passports and encourage underpayment of wages.
- Introducing a government run system for payment of recruitment fees and wages so agencies and employers cannot exploit workers.
- Establishing a body where government, workers and employers agree on recruitment fees, and work towards the international standard of ‘no fee to the employee’
- Letting employers and workers decide between them whether to the worker will live-in or not.
- Abolishing the ‘two week rule’ so that domestic workers are equally under same immigration policy as other migrant workers.
The petition has been closed. Thank you for your effort to protect rights of migrant domestic workers in Hong Kong.