Foreign maids in Hong Kong stage protest to demand more money

Other News Materials 13 July 2008 19:35 (UTC +04:00)

Around 200 foreign maids working in Hong Kong staged a protest Sunday to demand a bigger pay rise after the government increased their pay by 12.8 US dollars a month, dpa reported.

Shouting slogans and holding up placards, they described the annual pay rise as inadequate and called for a minimum wage of at least 500 US dollars a month at the rally in central Hong Kong.

The pay rise announced last week increases the minimum pay for foreign live-in maids in the wealthy former British colony, most of them from the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand, to 458 US dollars a month.

The move was welcomed by the Philippines consul general to Hong Kong Alejandrino Vicente who said it would help workers cope with rising living costs.

However, groups representing the maids say the pay rise is too little after the women had their pay slashed by 51 US dollars a month in 2003 to help employers cope with the crisis caused by the outbreak of the respiratory illness SARS.

After a similar small increase in pay rates last year, overseas maids in Hong Kong are currently paid around 12 US dollars a month less than they were before the SARS crisis.

A spokeswoman for Sunday's protestors said demonstrations would continue until maids were paid at least 500 US dollars a month to keep pace with inflation in the wealthy city of 6.9 million.

"We will continue with our demands," the spokeswoman said. "We will never stop until we get a significant increase. The government gives us a piecemeal amount every year despite rising inflation."

Last week's rise in minimum pay only applies to new contracts between employers and maids, which are usually signed for periods of two years.

More than 200,000 foreign women work as live-in maids for working Hong Kong families, doing housework and child care duties.