Dignity for Working Class: Say NO to Discrimination – Joint Declarations by Civil Organizations Supporting Foreign Domestic Helpers’ Fight for Their Right of Abode
We are a group of local civil organizations. While several foreign domestic helpers are seeking from Hong Kong’s court their rights of abode, their names and reputations are blackened by particular politicians who intend to gain political advantage in the year of elections. We are deeply angry towards such acts that take advantage of the situation.
Existing Laws Discriminate against Foreign Domestic Helpers
According to existing laws, non-Chinese nationality persons who hold legal documents and have worked for 7 years in Hong Kong are qualified to apply to the Director of Immigration for permanent residency in Hong Kong. However, s.2 of the Immigration Ordinance excludes foreign domestic workers from such application. They therefore suffer consistent discrimination and deprivation of rights solely because of their job nature.
We have to respect the basic rights of foreign domestic workers to fight for their rights of abode by legal means. Some political parties and LegCo members allege that millions of foreign domestic workers and their families will become Hong Kong permanent residents should the judicial review favour them, and therefore ill create financial burden for the Hong Kong society. We consider that such allegation echoes the discriminative government policies and provokes ethnic disintegration, in which the only result will be a terrified and divided society. These allegations are extremely ridiculous and irresponsible. We now APPEAL to the public to look at the truth, and to reject the lies of these selfish and shameless politicians.
We RESPECT the rights of the foreign domestic workers to fight for their rights through legal means. We DEMAND the government to immediately carry out the Court’s judgment without delay upon the applicants’ winning of the case. We also DEMAND the Immigration Department, for the sake of reflecting equality as one of our core values, to equally treat both foreign domestic workers and non-Chinese nationality persons who work in Hong Kong while handling applications for permanent residency.
Hong Kong Government is the Biggest Culprit of Discrimination Upon Foreign Domestic Helpers
In fact, the Right of Adode controversy is just one of the many discrimination faced by foreign domestic helpers. Other Hong Kong laws also discriminate them. For instance, the notorious “Fortnight Regulation” requires them to find a new employer within 2 weeks upon previous contract expires, or they will have to leave Hong Kong immediately. The Minimum Wage Ordinance also offers no protection to these foreign domestic workers. The Minimum Wage for foreign domestic helpers is just decided by less than 20 Exco members, and the government never asks for the advice of the labour union nor consult the public. Last but not least, the government has barely monitored the agencies that foreign domestic helpers have to pay a huge
premium to – as much as ten times their salary – to look for a new job so as to avoid being repatriated.
We CONSIDER that foreign domestic helpers have, just as those non-Chinese nationality persons who work locally, excessively contributed to Hong Kong society and its economic development. Local women are released to the labour market since these domestic helpers have taken up the responsibilities to take care of Hong Kong families. While both man and woman can be the breadwinners, social income and consumption increase, and Hong Kong economy benefits. The contribution of the foreign domestic helpers should therefore be acknowledged. However, when these people fight for their rights to be treated equally through formal and proper legal means, the government remains unconcerned, and even threatens to shorten their terms of contract. Some political parties and politicians deliberately exclude, discredit and blacken the names of these rights seekers, with a malicious intention of gaining political advantages. Hong Kong should not tolerate such chilling behavior.
Hong Kong Success Relied on Embracing Different Cultures
As an international city, Hong Kong’s success has never relied solely on local contributions. Our civilized, prosperous society is built with the co-ordination of people with different nationality and race. We appreciate the employers who treat their foreign domestic helpers as part of their families and as cooperative partners. We believe, that the respect of human rights and the inclusion of different communities are is the fundamentals of Hong Kong’s stability and prosperity.
We strongly DEMAND:
- Political parties and LegCo members (including Paul TSE Wai-chun, Regina IP LAU Suk-yee, Starry Lee Wai King, Miriam LAU Kin-yee, Liberal Party, New People’s Party, The Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions and the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong) to stop immediately their factually distorted and socially divisive speeches. They should apologize to all Hong Kong citizens and foreign domestic helpers for such speeches.
- The government to fix a schedule for the review and amendment of all discriminative laws against foreign domestic helpers, to ensure that all of them can enjoy equal treatment with non-Chinese workers.
- The government to prosecute immediately all agencies with illegal practices, in order for to protect the rights of the foreign domestic helpers and for them to receive proper wages.
15th August, 2011
Right of abode University
Kwai Chung Estate Christian Basic Community Grassroot Cultural Centre
PIME Social Concern Group
Right of Abode Committee
Concern Group for Cross-border Family Children
Hong Kong Christian Institute
League of Social Democrats
Justice and Peace Commission of the HK Catholic Diocese Legislative Councilor Leung Kwok Hung’s Office
Office of District Councilor To Kwan Hang, Andrew
HK Federation of Students
HK Confederation of Trade Union
HK Women Workers Association
Chinese University Student Press
The Association for the Advancement of Feminism
People Planning in-action