Selasa, 22 Juli 2008

“Exclusion of existing contracts threatens our job security”

Foreign maids to rally thousands for blanket coverage and immediate levy suspension

“Suspension of levy for new contracts alone poses a clear and present danger to the 220,000 ongoing contracts. This government is endangering our jobs and will surely lead to mass termination of FDWs.”

This was declared today by Eni Lestari, spokesperson of the Asian Migrants Coordinating Body or AMCB as more than 50 of their members gathered at the Central Government Office to demand from the Executive Council to make the levy suspension it announced to cover all foreign domestic workers – those with ongoing contracts and the new ones.

“When the levy was implemented in 2003, our wage suffered. As how the suspension stands now, it puts our job at stake. When will the HK government make our rights and wellbeing part of its priorities?” she added.

Lestari said that to have the levy suspension cover new contracts alone will result to an “open season of termination” as, she believed, employers will surely opt to get new contracts to save money.

According to Lestari, after the HK government announced the two-year suspension of the levy, they have gathered information from fellow workers who have ongoing contracts that their employers are threatening them of termination. Reports from member organizations of AMCB showed that there are employers who are now considering an early termination of their employee’s contract and just promising the FDWs that they will be rehired as soon as the suspension takes effect.

Meanwhile, those whose contracts are up for renewal soon and those who are already processing new contracts said that their employers are having second thoughts of hiring them now and are thinking of waiting for the levy suspension to take effect first before doing so.

Lestari hit Labour Secretary Matthew Cheung for disregarding the impacts to FDWs of the current design of levy suspension. Cheung said that the government will ensure the benefit and convenience of employers in their decision-making.

“How about us? Shouldn’t a labour official, first and foremost, consider the workers themselves? There was even no attempt by the HK government to get the views of the FDWs on this matter. It is highly-inconsistent of a government who just recently passed Racial Discrimination Ordinance to disregard one of the biggest sector of ethnic minorities in HK,” she lamented.

The AMCB spokeswoman said that their member organizations composed of Filipino, Indonesian, Thai, Nepalese and Sri Lankan groups are already gearing for actions to advance their call for blanket coverage and immediate suspension of the levy.

“The forums and discussions we held last Sunday with migrant workers have shown the indignation of FDWs against the HK government for putting our jobs in jeopardy. The urgency to put pressure is there and this selective and delayed suspension shall be put to shame by thousands of us who will march and protest,” she reported.

Lestari also called on to employers, particularly the middle income ones, to also speak out against the delay of the suspension.

“Since its introduction, the levy has been met with popular resistance. We demand its suspension for all now and we shall not stop until it is finally abolished,” Lestari concluded.#

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