OFWs in HK increase by nearly 3K amid protests

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OFWs at the HSBC building in Central on a Sunday.


Instead of going down, the number of Filipino domestic workers in Hong Kong has increased by nearly 3,000 amid the anti-government protests, according to latest data from the Immigration Department (ImmD).

The number of Filipino helpers rose from 216,052 in June–when the protests began–to 216,375 in July; 217,961 in August; and 218,883 in September, or an increase of 2,831 workers during the four-month period.

The number of Indonesian domestic workers also increased by from 167,937 in June; 169,134 in July; 169,079 in August; and 169,775 in September.

In total, the number of foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong rose by 4,763 (393,344 in June to 398,107 last month) even as the city was racked by protests.

Philippine Secretary Silvestre Bello III earlier said that he would encourage a “slowdown” in the deployment of overseas Filipino workers to Hong Kong but that apparently has not happened as the protests continued.

The demonstrations have gone on even after Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam in September withdrew the controversial extradition bill that sparked the protests in June.

Besides the withdrawal of the extradition bill, the demonstrators are now also calling for universal suffrage, an independent inquiry into alleged police brutality, the release of arrested protesters, and the removal of the designation of the June 12 protest as a “riot.”

HelpersChoice, an online platform for recruiting foreign domestic workers in HK, released the results of a survey in August which showed that 52 percent of Filipino helpers here were not worried by the protests while 45 percent were worried but not enough to consider leaving Hong Kong.

The survey of 982 Filipino workers also showed that 97 percent would not consider returning to the Philippines or going to another country if Manila imposed a deployment ban to HK.

On Sept. 27, the Hong Kong government announced that it was raising the minimum allowable wage of foreign domestic helpers by $110 (from $4,520 to $4,630) and this will apply to all FDH contracts signed on or after Sept. 28.

It added that the food allowance will be increased by $46 (or 4.3 per cent) from not less than $1,075 to not less than $1,121 per month.