Gov’t rejects proposed ban on FDW gatherings during rest days

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Filipino foreign domestic workers in Central. (FILE PHOTO)

The Hong Kong government said it has no plans of targeting domestic workers only in their Covid-19 infection control measures, Secretary for Labour and Welfare Law Chi-kwong said Thursday.

Law said this in response to Legislative Council members worrying over migrant workers gathering in public spaces during their rest days, going as far as suggesting to ban them from leaving their places of employment.

The labour chief said this proposal, earlier suggested by pro-Beijing lawmaker Elizabeth Quat, may be discriminatory.

“If we just target the FDHs it may be a question of discrimination,” Law said.

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Only 212 of them or almost 3% of the 7,097 local cases of Covid-19 recorded as of Jan. 3 were foreign domestic workers, according to data Law mentioned.

“The infection rate of FDHs is 0.055%, which is lower than the 0.1% for the general public, so there’s no good reason for that,” he said.

Quat first suggested grounding almost 380,000 workers at their place of employment after seeing them hanging out in groups on their days off.

“On weekends, especially on Sunday, we see FDHs everywhere. On footbridges, in parks, they put up tents, they have picnics, they sing, they eat, they gather,” Quat explained.

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The lawmaker also called out Hong Kong’s government’s “laid-back” approach in tackling infection risks posed by the domestic workers.

“We ask them to do something and the government says it will encourage and suggest to employers to talk to their FDHs so that FDHs would stay at home on Sunday. If the employers were successful, we wouldn’t be seeing this situation,” she said.

But the labour chief said even implementing special measures on a specific sector of the community should be based on “objective facts.”

“This suggestion itself is quite controversial and the legislative amendments of mandatory measures involved may even touch upon discrimination issues,” Law told LegCo in response to Quat’s questions.

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The story’s headline was updated from “Banning FDW gatherings on days off may be discriminatory, labour chief says” to “Gov’t rejects proposed ban on FDW gatherings during rest days.”