Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) Secretary Toots Ople said it was “unjust” to stop health workers and other medical frontliners from seeking employment abroad.
Instead of barring them from leaving, government should address local working conditions.
“They cannot avoid leaving. It’s also unjust to make them stay here. They’ve been waiting for the circumstances to change in the domestic workforce,” Ople said during the DMW’s budget presentation before the Senate finance sub-committee.
“We also need to look at the conditions here. It’s very attractive to see the condition elsewhere. We need to address this,” she added.
Meanwhile, Ople has cited the equivalent of a P750-wage hike in Hong Kong as a boon for Filipino domestic workers, making it one of the most attractive places to work as a “kasambahay.”
Compared to today’s minimum wage for local domestic workers that ranging from P3,500 in the Zamboanga Peninsula, P5,500 in Central Visayas to P6,000 in Metro Manila, a Filipino domestic worker in Hong Kong will now earn HK$4,730 equivalent to P35,475.
The Hong Kong government announced on Friday, September 30, that it was raising the minimum allowable wage (MAW) and food allowance for foreign domestic workers which takes effect October 1st.
The new Hong Kong MAW of HK$4,730 (P35,475) is HK$100 more than the previous wage of HK$4,630 (P34,725) set in September 2019.
Meantime, the new minimum food allowance of HK$1,196 (P8,970) set in September last year is HK$23 more than the previous minimum food allowance of HK$1,173 (P8,797). The food allowance, however, is given only to domestic workers who “live out” or outside of their employer’s residence.
In comparison, a foreign domestic worker in Taiwan earns NT$25,250 (P46,860.40), and in Singapore SG$600 (P24,659).
“The increase in pay comes after a two-year wage freeze in HK due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At this time of rising prices due to a stronger US dollar, this new minimum wage hike is a boon to our kasambahays in HK,” Ople said.
The new wage order drew positive reactions from Filipino community leaders. Arthur Buban, founder-chairman of the Bicol Migrants HK Association said, “sa panahon ng pandemic ay kailangan natin tanggapin kung ano ang ibinigay ng Hong Kong government tungkol sa salary at kailangan din unawain ang ating employer sa panahon na naapektuhan ng kanilang negosyo. Kaya kailangan natin magpasalamat sa kanila na kahit tumaas ng kaunti ay malaking bagay ito sa ating lahat.”
On the other hand, OFW Marites Nuval of the La Union Federation of Hong Kong says, “malaking bagay po na nataasan muli ang minimum wage at food allowance ng foreign domestic worker. Sa panahon ng pandemya 2-taon po na walang dagdag ang sahod dahilan po sa pandemya sa buong mundo na naging dahilan na maapektuhan ang mga negosyo, turismo at iba pang bansa.”
The Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Hong Kong (POLO-HK), citing data from the Hong Kong Immigration Department, reported that there are 188,171 OFWs in the city as of end August 2022, accounting for more than half of the city’s estimated 333,000 migrant domestic worker labor force.