The two-week suspension of issuance of employment certificates by the Philippine Department of Labor and Employment last month resulted in a hiccup in the supply of overseas domestic workers to Hong Kong. In a commentary titled “Who is the liar now?” published on sunwebhk.com on Thursday, columnist Vir Lumicao raised the question of who should be blamed for the sudden suspension.
The Philippine department said it had informed the Hong Kong government about the illegal recruitments of Filipino domestic workers in the city to work in other countries, Lumicao wrote. However, Hong Kong Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said the government did not receive any report from the Philippine side.
Lumicao said one side or the other must have been telling lies. He did not make a conclusion in his article but did point out that the Hong Kong government had failed to handle many previous reported cases of illicit recruitment activities.
In 2010, three domestic workers were scammed by Mila Ipp and paid US$2,000 for non-existent jobs in Canada, according to his article. They filed a claim at the Small Claims Tribunal but the case was not followed up. Another 15 domestic workers were scammed by Ipp and each paid HK$28,000 (US$3,580) for jobs in Cyprus.
This year, hundreds of maids were scammed into paying to get jobs in Britain and Canada, again non-existent, by three employment agencies. Each worker had to pay at least HK$10,000 as a processing fee. Many of the victims have reported their cases to police.
In Hong Kong, there is no system for the Small Claims Tribunal or the police to refer complaints to the Labor Department, as they operate independently.