Asia Minute: Domestic Workers Campaign for Higher Wages in Hong Kong

Aug 28, 2017

Credit The Royal Danish Academy of Fine / Flickr

A week before Labor Day, there’s a focus on a group of workers who want an increase in their minimum wage. Over a time of increasing wealth in Hong Kong, domestic workers there have seen very little movement in their pay. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

The minimum monthly wage for domestic workers in Hong Kong has gone up by the equivalent of less than 2 dollars a day—over nearly 20 years.

Domestic workers and their advocates say it’s time for a more substantial raise, nearly 30-percent, to about 700 U.S. dollars a month.

A dozen advocates met with government officials on Friday making the case on behalf of more than 350 thousand domestic workers in Hong Kong.

Nearly half of those workers are from the Philippines…most of the others are from Indonesia.

Singapore hosts almost a quarter of a million foreign domestic workers.

They received a raise of about three and a half percent this spring, bringing their monthly wages to about 420 U.S. dollars—substantially lower than the going rate in Hong Kong.

The overwhelming majority of domestic workers across Asia are women—generally with limited rights.

Media reports are full of stories of domestic workers being targets of abuse.

Back in Hong Kong, a spokeswoman for one of those advocacy groups meeting with government officials said they were not promised anything specific---but were told their request for raises were too much.

Organizers are putting together a protest march in Hong Kong on Sunday---the only day of the week that domestic workers are off.