Friday, November 10, 2006

Hong Kong: she works hard for the money

In Hong Kong, there is no legal minimum wage for workers -- except for the extremely low one set for foreign domestic helpers (of which there are well over 275,000 -- almost all females, almost all from Indonesia and the Philippines) .

A statutory and legal minimum wage? It's not as if there is no demand for one, there is. Hong Kong's Confederation of Trade Untions has long lobbied for one as have various Christian NGOs, to name but two. All to no avail. Never fear, Hong Kong Governnment studies the problem: Legislative Council Question 4.

In mid-October, Hong Kong's Cheif Executive, (Sir) Donald Tsang encourages the cleaning and security sectors to implement a voluntary minimum wage. Voluntary? Yeah, right. That'll go down well.

So, in the absence of a statutory minimum wage, local women -- mostly poorly educated, unskilled for the labour market, married with children -- continue to find themselves victim of a lamentable state of affairs: earning as little as about HK$10 an hour.

Recently, Next Magazine reported on the lives of a number of such women. It's a good but sobering read. Roland Soong translated the article into English and you can find it on his blog, here: EastSouthWestNorth

No comments: