Dressed in black and wearing headbands, up to 300 domestic workers protested outside the Indonesian Consulate in Causeway Bay demanding Justice for Elis. Elis, a domestic worker from Indonesia, died tragically after a 60kg concrete block fell on her at the Sunlight Agency hostel where she was staying.
They demanded changes to the Indonesian Government rules that require all domestic workers to be employed through agencies. This, they say allows for exploitation of domestic workers as the agencies are often unregulated, or regulations are unenforced.
Local activist takes the mic: “I feel ashamed that all of you have only one day a week to protest.”
— Meredith McBride (@MeredithJamie) March 22, 2015
Domestic workers spoken to by HK Helpers Campaign recounted stories of passports being confiscated, access to phones being limited and complained of excessive placement fees. Helpers are forced to borrow cash through loan agencies which charge excessive interest rates. This, they say, is done with the full knowledge of the Indonesian Government who do little to advocate compliance with local laws to protect their workers.
As a coffin arrived representing Elis, the crowd stirred and wailed in sorrow. Elis was an advocate of domestic workers issues and had been at rallies supporting Erwiana just weeks ago
The crowd commenced a march to the agency in North Point. Along the way, bystanders were encouraged to join and numbers soon swelled to an estimated 1000 people. Drums and chants along the way kept the momentum going and spirits high.
Outside Sunlight Agency, speakers demanded justice for Elis.
Elis’s body will be repatriated to Indonesia on Tuesday the 24th of March. A fund has been set up to support her children and parents. To donate click here.
Excerpt from Asian Migrants Co-ordinating Body
We need answers. We need the Truth. We need accountability. We want to:
1.Conduct a thorough investigation to determine who is accountable for this tragic incident that the death of Elis. Those accountable must be prosecuted.
2. Investigare and determine the culpability of the employer and the Sunlight Employment Agency for forcing Elis to stay with the agency and not with her employer
3. Allow migrant domestic workers (MDW’s) to process employment contract without going through employment agency
4. Demand the Hong Kong SAR government to come up with a new, stricter and proactive regulation and monitoring of employment agencies , and to actively prosecute those who violate the law and exploit workers and sometimes even employers.
5. Allow live-out arrangements as an option for employers and workers who have mutually agreed to such living arrangement.