Tag Archives : news


NEWS – Domestic Workers Share Their Thoughts on Occupy Central 1

HK Helpers Campaign volunteers Meredith McBride & Vivian Yan spoke to some of the city’s domestic worker community about the Umbrella Movement occupation protests.

Catherine, from the Philippines, has been living in Hong Kong for 3 years.

“The protesters want this fight and are against China. Maybe they can help us to make… law[s] in favour of the domestic workers? Maybe for me, I am in favour of the protesters because they really fight for their rights, for their democracy.  They make a lot of sacrifices so I hope they win.”


NEWS – Civil Servant Who Assaulted Helper Permitted to Hire Another

Former civil servant Au Wai-chun has been granted an eighteen month probation after being found guilty of causing actual bodily harm to Raksona Begum, who was working in her home in Tseung Kwan O in September of last year. Begum was hospitalised for five days after receiving first and second degree burns from a boiling cup of water Au poured on her chest.

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Au received a six month jail sentence, which was overturned after she explained to the judge that she had ‘lost her temper’. Au received support from her current domestic worker from the Philippines, who allegedly wrote to the court to ask for leniency. After the verdict, domestic worker advocates expressed their concern that a woman found guilty of assaulting a migrant domestic worker in her home would be permitted to hire another.


NEWS – Domestic Workers Receive Pay Increase… But Lose Money

On September 31st, Hong Kong’s Labour Department announced that the minimum allowable wage for domestic workers will increase by HK$100 per month. The figure is a 2.5% increase on their previous monthly salary of $4010.

The increase will only apply to new contracts signed after October 1st of this year. Domestic workers with existing contracts and those who signed contracts in the days before the announcement will have to wait until their current contract expires before obtaining the wage increase. Domestic workers who do not get food from their employers will also receive an additional $44 per month for food allowance.

via Stefan Irvine

via Stefan Irvine

The announcement was met with little joy however, as Hong Kong inflation has increased by 3.6% over the past year according to the Census and Statistics Department. The result is that domestic workers are actually earning less than they did a year ago.


NEWS – Helper’s Son, Born & Raised in HK, Barred from Gaining Permanent Residency 2

A son of a Filipino domestic worker, who was born-and-raised in Hong Kong, has lost his fight for permanent residency. Five judges at the Court of Final Appeal agreed unanimously that Joseph James Gutierrez, 17, does not qualify for permanent residency under Article 24 of the Basic Law.

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His mother, Josephine Gutierrez, has worked in Hong Kong as a helper since 1991. Joseph had been present in the city for more than 7 years, with only short gaps as he visited the Philippines. The judges said that he did not meet the criteria for being “ordinarily” resident.


NEWS – Judge Rejects Appeal by Couple Convicted of “Inhuman” Torture

The couple who tortured Indonesian helper Kartika Puspitasari have had their appeal rejected by a judge who called their behaviour “inhuman“. Tai Chi-wai and Catherine Au Yuk-shan were convicted of eight counts of assault last year. They received jail sentences of three years and three months, and five years and six months, respectively. During the trial, the court heard how the couple beat Kartika with hot irons, a paper cutter, a shoe, a hanger and bicycle chains.

A protest at t he Indonesian consulate last summer

A protest at t he Indonesian consulate last summer

Mr Justice Wally Yeung Chun-kuen, the Court of Appeal’s vice-president, said that the court had a duty to protect foreign worker’s rights. “…they used severe ways to torture another parents’ daughter [Kartika]… Hong Kong is a modern, civilised city and is serious about human rights. We will not tolerate these inhuman acts as the couple did to the victim”, Yeung said.


NEWS – Civil Servant Guilty of Causing Actual Bodily Harm to Domestic Worker

On September 1 the District Court convicted former civil servant Au Wai-chun of causing actual bodily harm to Begum Raksona, a woman from Bangladesh who did domestic work in her home. The incident occurred in September last year at Au’s home at Bauhinia Garden in Tseung Kwan O. The court heard that a dispute arose when Au became angry that a cup of water given to her by Raksona was not hot enough.

Bauhinia Garden in Tseung Kwan O

Bauhinia Garden in Tseung Kwan O, via Wikicommons


NEWS – 117 Student Activists Lobby Gov Committee to Limit Helper Working Hours 1

Student activists at International Christian School in Sha Tin have submitted 117 campaign postcards to the Standard Working Hours Committee.

students take action

The young justice advocates worked with HK Helpers Campaign to lobby the government committee to include domestic workers in Hong Kong’s upcoming legislation limiting working hours. Currently, helpers – like all local workers – can be made to work unlimited hours. Many domestic workers are indeed expected to be ‘on call’ 24/7.


NEWS – New Survey Finds 97% of Filipino Helpers Are Burdened by Debt

Last Sunday, domestic worker NGO Enrich administered a survey amongst 100 migrant women. While the overall atmosphere at Charter Garden was cheerful with colourful dancing parades the survey painted an alarming picture of the financial situation of many migrant women in Hong Kong.

Helper debt

Most migrant women arrive in Hong Kong to work and save money in order to secure a better and brighter future for themselves and their families. Generally women save for things like their children’s education, a house, capital for business or a comfortable retirement.


NEWS – Building Bans Domestic Helper Residents From Own Clubhouse 2

A residential building in Yau Ma Tei has attempted to ban domestic worker residents from its clubhouse as their presence may ‘induce nuisance’ and affect the rights of other residents on Sundays. The sign was posted by management company Hong Yip Service Company (owned by Sun Hung Kai Properties) at their ‘No.8 The Waterloo‘ development. It told residents not to allow their helpers to use access cards during their holidays. However, domestic workers are themselves residents and – by law – have no choice but to live with their employers in the building.

Hung Yip Service Company

Hong Yip Service Company notice – click for full blingual version.

News of the policy emerged after a local resident complained to a local NGO. Asking to remain anonymous, he said “To categorise a group of people as a ‘nuisance’ based on their occupation is absolutely disgusting… What is the difference between a crowd of domestic helpers and a crowd of people who are not?” Although he said understood that having groups of visitors in the clubhouse may be undesirable, he noted that helpers have little place to go on their day off owing to their meagre salaries.


OP-ED – Helpers Set Up Own Libraries As Gov’t Ignores HK’s Biggest Minorities

A South China Morning Post article last week reported Hong Kong people are falling out of love with city libraries. The rampant usage of smartphones was cited for the decline in book rentals. Library officials lamented the decreasing figures and commentators criticised the cities reading culture, which has been ‘in decline for years’. On the other hand, domestic workers have been busy setting up unofficial mobile libraries across the city because the Hong Kong libraries don’t cater for their needs.

libraries ignore minorities

Since 2009, the department has expanded its library collection from 12.5 million books and multimedia materials to 13.1 million. Yet, the number of books rented fell 6.2 million over the past five years, from 61.7 million in 2009 to 55.5 million last year. A spokesperson for the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, which manages the public libraries told the SCMP that “professional judgement was exercised in the acquisition of books to meet the different needs of various groups, including ethnic minorities”, and the collections remained “highly popular among readers”.