Around 20 protesters staged a rally at the Hong Kong government headquarters in Admiralty on Friday, calling for better regulation of labour conditions for foreign domestic workers.

The march was led by the Asian Migrants Coordinating Body and marked International Women’s Day.

Photo: Asian Migrants Coordinating Body.

“The practice of modern slavery [is] more alive since the Hong Kong government refuses to regulate working hours and rest hours for migrant domestic workers,” campaigner Sringatin told HKFP. “Migrant domestic workers, as women, as workers and part of the workforce in Hong Kong, are still treated like foreigners, lower class [citizens] and are isolated from society.”

Among the key demands was to increase domestic workers’ minimum wage from HK$4,520 to HK$5,500, the monthly food allowance if the helper is not eating with the employer from HK$1,075 to HK$2,500, to enact laws to ensure decent accommodation, 11 hours of uninterrupted rest for two consecutive working days and three meal breaks per day, and to prosecute recruitment agencies who collect illegal fees and overcharge domestic workers.

Eni Lestari (centre-right). Photo: Asian Migrants Coordinating Body.

The group also condemned local authorities for failing to ratify the United Nation’s International Labour Organisation Convention No. 189 on domestic workers, which protects the rights of domestic workers across the world.

Representatives from the League of Social Democrats and the International Migrants Alliance also attended the demonstration, according to local media.

There were 369,651 foreign domestic workers living in Hong Kong at the end of 2017, with the number set to rise to 600,000 by 2047, according to the government.

Jennifer Creery

Jennifer Creery is a Hong Kong-born British journalist, interested in minority rights and urban planning. She holds a BA in English at King's College London and has studied Mandarin at National Taiwan University.