Thousands of blue-collar workers used the Labor Day to stage a demonstration in Hong Kong on Thursday, calling for public holidays, standard hours, more control over their Mandatory Provident Fund accounts and restrictions on the number foreign workers brought into the city.
Workers are aggrieved that bank holidays which most white-collar staff in the city enjoy, such as the Easter holiday and Buddha’s Birthday, are not counted as holidays for general labor.
Some workers accused Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying of neglecting labor issues and demanded that he should step down from his post, Apple Daily reported Friday.
Meanwhile, members of a domestic helper organization also took to the street, urging the government to strengthen the oversight on employment agencies and punish abusive employers.
Some demonstrators dressed up as cooks and construction site workers and put on handcuffs, to convey a message that the workers were being bullied by big corporations. The report cited a cleaning worker named Fok as saying that Leung had promised to increase the holidays for workers but failed to do so.
Meanwhile, Sringatin, chairperson of the Indonesian Migrant Workers Union, said the Erwiana incident is not an isolated case and that the government should put in more effort to prevent the abuse of domestic maids.
She was referring to the case of Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, a 23-year-old Indonesian maid who is said to have suffered horrific physical torture at the hands of her employer last year.
The workers union urged the government to step up supervision on the employment agencies and also demanded that the maids’ monthly minimum salaries be lifted to at least HK$4,500 (US$578) from the current HK$4,010, the report said.
Some college students also took part in Thursday’s demonstration. The students criticized Hong Kong’s “Future Fund”, saying the government fund is focused only on infrastructure and not on retirement protection and the medical industry.
Labor unions said about 7,200 people joined the rally, while the police put the number at 5,400. The government said it has always recognized the role of workers and that it will strengthen monitoring on domestic worker agencies.
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