- Matthew Cheung Kin-chungSecretary for Labour and Welfare, Hong Kong
Call on the Hong Kong Government to Protect Domestic Workers from Bonded Labour
Erwiana’s story of torture and abuse in one of the world’s glitziest cities is currently rallying thousands in Asia.
After 8 months of being forced to work with no pay in a Hong Kong family’s home, Erwiana’s beaten and broken body was dumped at the city’s largest airport with a one way ticket home and a frightening threat – tell anyone about what happened and your parents will be killed.
Workers such as Erwiana are trapped in a vicious economic cycle making many modern slaves in Hong Kong. Dishonest placement agencies illegally lock the world’s most vulnerable workers in debt, often charging them 7 or 8 months’ wages to be placed, making repayment next to impossible.The good news is that Hong Kong law only allows agencies to charge up to 10% of a worker’s first month’s wage. Unfortunately, the city’s government does not regulate these agencies, which then continue their extortion.
The result? Many domestic workers – both penniless and powerless – become victims of increasingly harsh treatment at the hand of their employers and have nowhere to go for help.
Call on the Hong Kong Government to put in place procedures to regulate and monitor placement agencies right now.
- Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Hong Kong
Matthew Cheung Kin-chung
I was appalled to hear of Erwiana’s story.
But it could have been prevented. I call on you to take the first steps towards ensuring workers like Erwiana are protected from the risks of modern slavery by:
- Establishing a robust, proactive body that monitors, investigates and punishes agencies that charge excessive fees, confiscate passports and encourage underpayment of wages.
- Introducing a government run system for payment of recruitment fees and wages so agencies and employers cannot exploit workers.
- Establishing a body where government, workers and employers agree on recruitment fees, and work towards the international standard of 'no fee to the employee'.
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