Filipino maids took to the streets
of Hong Kong Sunday in protest at a labor law proposed by the
Philippine government that has angered millions of its citizens
A throng of
mostly female domestic helpers marched through the city to the
Philippine consulate to present a petition calling on President
Arroyo to scrap the proposal.
If passed, the
law will require maids who work overseas to undergo a two or three
week “competency training and assessment program” recognized by
the Overseas Workers’ Welfare Administration at a cost of P10,000
to P15,000 ($215 to $320).
Maids in Hong
Kong typically earn about $450 a month.
Balladares, chairman of the Asian Migrants Coordinating Body (AMCB),
which has organized the rally, described the proposal as
taking advantage of the overseas workers,” said Balladares.
In a statement
the Department of Labor and Employment said it had issued a
resolution relaxing the policy so that it would apply only to newly
Labor Secretary Arturo
Brion defended the law as part of reforms to give maids better
protection amid a number of high-profile cases of abuse against
maids, especially in Saudi Arabia and Singapore.
that we have been implementing are for the long term and would place
the [maids] on a better footing against abuse and exploitation
abroad,” he said.
up Hong Kong’s largest immigrant community, with some 120,000
maids working in the city.
Manila government says about 1.5 million of its citizens work
overseas as domestic helpers, an unofficial tally by the AMCB puts
the figure closer to 10 million.
mostly in the oil-rich Middle East countries, with Saudi Arabia
accounting for the largest number, at around 300,000.