A LAWMAKER on Monday backed the proposed 25-percent pay hike for Filipino domestic workers in Hong Kong following the demand for household helpers in mainland China.
ACTS-OFW Rep. Aniceto Betrtiz III made a statement as Hong Kong families are under pressure to hold on to their Filipino domestic workers, amid the lure of greener pasture in Beijing.
Bertiz said a 25-percent increase in the statutory minimum wage will benefit the 190,000 Filipino domestic workers in Hong Kong.
“If Hong Kong wants to stay competitive and keep on attracting dependable and educated Filipino household staff, it has to bump up at a faster rate their minimum pay,” Bertiz said.
“There is pent-up demand for Filipino household staff in mainland China, primarily from the growing number of wealthy Chinese families with a second child and from the expatriates there,” Bertiz added.
The lawmaker said Hong Kong’s Labor Department periodically reviews the minimum wage and other benefits for foreign domestic workers, and is expected to announce improvements in September.
He said advocates for domestic workers’ rights in Hong Kong are pushing for a HK$5,500 monthly minimum wage, which is 25 percent higher than the current floor pay.
At present, foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong are entitled to a “minimum allowable wage” of HK$4,410 per month, plus a food allowance of at least HK$1,053 per month if they are not provided free meals by the employer.
According to Bertiz, affluent families in China want their children to learn English at an early age to prepare them for future higher education in America, Britain, Australia and elsewhere.
“This is why they are willing to offer higher pay for English-speaking Filipino staff to help around the house,” Bertiz said.
He said Filipinos account for 53 percent of the 360,000 foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong.
The party-list lawmaker said Hong Kong has already acknowledged it could lose up to 50 percent of its Filipino domestic workers due to superior pay in the mainland ranging from the Chinese yuan equivalent of HK$8,600 to HK$15,500.
Even without the mainland demand factor, he said Hong Kong would still need an additional 240,000 foreign domestic workers in the years ahead, partly to help look after its growing number of seniors, according to the autonomous Chinese territory’s Labor and Welfare Bureau.
Earlier, the Department of Labor and Employment said there are 300,000 available jobs for Filipinos in China. It said China needs household service workers, caregivers, musicians, nurses and English teachers. Bertiz, citing 2017 data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), said Filipino workers in Hong Kong, including professionals, sent home US$735.2 million last year.
“They sent home another US$188.7 million from January to March this year. The amounts do not include money transferred via non-bank channels, such as through other Filipino workers who come home for vacations,” he added.