2009-07-12
FDWs are not slaves! Respect all domestic workers in HK!

 

Co-sign Statement:FDWs are not slaves! Respect all domestic workers in HK!
 
Online petition pls go to:http://gopetition.com/online/29168.html 
 
 
We are a group of Hong Kong employers and residents who wish to clearly affirm that we respect all domestic workers in Hong Kong, including especially foreign domestic workers who have become essential to our society and economy.

Domestic workers are workers, and we respect the work they do, as we also respect all men and women who contribute to society by doing the fundamental work in keeping a family alive day to day – cooking food, keeping the family clean and properly clothed, and caring for the children and elderly.

As we ourselves enjoy labour rights, they also should fully enjoy rights as workers, and be fully protected from abuse, as both workers and as women.

We therefore reaffirm that all citizens who are employers of domestic workers should, and we ourselves who are, will, fully comply with all the legal minimum obligations required by Hong Kong law with respect to domestic workers:

WAGES – payment of the minimum monthly wage
REST DAYS – ONE FULL REST DAY per week. This means 24 hours, preferably with the beginning and ending time to be agreed between employer and employee at the start of the contract. If the employer requests the helper to work on his/her rest day, it must be with the voluntary agreement of the worker and alternative rest day must be provided within the next 30 days; or, if the worker agrees, he/she must be paid for the rest day on which he/she worked, in lieu of another rest day.
STATUTORY HOLIDAY – All workers should rest on the statutory holidays, unless you agree upon an alternative holiday 60 days before or after. EVEN DURING PROBATION PERIOD, they are entitled to having a day off on statutory holidays– even if not entitled to payment for those days, during the probation period..
SICK LEAVE – It is a normal part of human life to fall ill. Workers must be permitted to take sick leave and recover.
NOTICE OF TERMINATION AND SEVERANCE – In case of termination of the worker, there should be a valid reason, due notice given, and due compensation paid. The employer must not threaten or coerce the worker into a false resignation letter, for the sake of causing workers to forgo their long service pay.
MEDICAL INSURANCE – Insurance should be provided and paid for by the employer in accordance with the Employees’ Compensation Ordinance.

ALL LABOUR LAWS SHOULD BE APPLIED IN BOTH LETTER AND SPIRIT.
Under Hong Kong laws, a certain level of protections exist for workers, yet because of a combination of neglectful policies, poor enforcement and isolated workplaces where abuses can stay hidden from the public, domestic workers are vulnerable to all manners of abuses, which include overwork, starvation, verbal and physical abuse, underpayment, sexual harassment and assault, and other labour and human rights violations. These abuses are not duly punished – many are not even illegal - and so they get repeated, and taken for granted as part of life as a domestic worker in Hong Kong. This must end, and we support all efforts to eliminate individual as well as systemic abuses.
 
We condemn and commit to avoid at all costs the following, which are illegal and/or violate basic human rights:
1 Depriving the worker of sufficient food and time to eat.
2 Depriving the worker of having at least eight hours night sleep.
3 Depriving the worker of free entry and exit to her own residence, by not providing a key or in any other way preventing free movement of the worker.
4 Holding the passport of the worker, and otherwise holding or inspecting any personal belongings of the worker without her/his consent.
5 Forcing the worker to work for persons other than specified in the contract, without the worker’s consent.
6 Preventing the worker from associating with others, such as by restricting use of the telephone/mobile phone, or meeting others in person.
7 Verbally, physically or psychologically abusing the worker.
 

We realize that Hong Kong laws still do not sufficiently protect foreign domestic workers from abuse and don’t sufficiently reflect their equality to other workers as fellow residents of Hong Kong.

Beyond the requirements of the Hong Kong law, we also state that we believe and will support:
8. The rights and protections given to workers in Hong Kong should include foreign domestic workers, as they are also workers in Hong Kong who contribute significantly to the society and the economy. Exclusion of them from the rights and protections given to Hong Kong workers based on their occupation, gender or nationality is blatant discrimination and should be opposed.
9. All workers including foreign domestic workers, should be given clear working and rest hours in a day, so that they do not end up working non-stop like slaves.
10. There should be a reasonable statutory minimum food allowance level, and it should be implemented, if the employer will not provide food in the home.
11. Foreign domestic workers should have the option of living out. Restoring the option of both live-in and live-out would be beneficial to both employers and workers..
12. The visa conditions for domestic workers should be unified under the same policy as other foreign workers in Hong Kong; and the worker should be allowed to change jobs and employers with less difficulty than at present.
13. Employment agencies should be disciplined with deterrent punishment when they make statements to employers to break laws and/or exploit their workers. Policies that contribute to workers’ job instability must be eliminated, such as packages that encourage ‘trying out’ several workers within a fixed period, for no additional cost to the employer.
14. The Hong Kong government must proactively enforce the 10% agency fee limit in Hong Kong and demand that the Philippine and Indonesian governments limit the exorbitant agency fees workers must pay in their countries before arriving in Hong Kong to work.

We call on all responsible and appreciative employers of domestic workers in Hong Kong to sign this document. Together we can show the progressive and humane side of Hong Kong society – a ‘world city’ of Asia which rests not on exploitation but on a base of universal human rights. There must be no slaves and involuntary servitude in Hong Kong!

 
 
Originator: Families for Domestic Workers, Hong Kong Christian Institute, Justice and Peace Commission of the Hong Kong Catholic Diocese