Foreign domestic workers in Central on Hong Kong Island. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Foreign domestic workers in Central on Hong Kong Island. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Hundred of domestic workers marched to the Labor Department office in Central on Sunday to demand increased wages and food allowance.

The Asian Migrants Coordinating Body proposed a 27.6% pay rise for the minimum allowed wage to HK$5,500 (US$702) a month and lifting the food allowance from HK$1,037 to HK$2,500, while food that employers provide has to be sufficient and nutritious, a statement posted on social media said.

The minimum wage for domestic workers in Hong Kong is HK$4,310 a month.

The group said increases in the wage for maids in recent years had been insufficient and did not match the inflation rate in Hong Kong.

And many maids often get an insufficient amount of food or they are asked to eat leftover food or food that was spoiled.

The group said they would conduct talks with Labour Department officials and lobby lawmakers for their support.

Eman, a spokesperson for the Asian Migrants Coordinating Body, said they have more bargaining power in talks with the government as news circulated earlier that a maid’s salary could reach HK$8,000 if they are allowed to work in mainland China.

Even Filipino maids who would prefer to work in Hong Kong would be prepared to work elsewhere if the salary was better, Eman said.

However, Betty Yung Ma Shan-yee, chairperson of the Hong Kong Employers of Domestic Helpers Association, said the news of maids getting such a salary was just a rumor, as the Chinese government would protect local workers’ interests first, Hong Kong Economic Journal reported.

Yung said the salary paid to maids in Hong Kong was better than what they are paid in Singapore and Taiwan, and if maids perform their job well, many employers in Hong Kong were willing to pay them more.

A Labor Department official said they were reviewing the minimum allowed wage and food allowance for domestic workers in Hong Kong – in a bid to strike a balance between the interests of both local employers and foreign maids.