Nearly one in two Nepalese domestic helpers in Hong Kong are being exploited by their employers when it comes to wages, a survey has shown, pointing to the need for more efforts from authorities to protect the rights and interests of foreign workers.
According to a study conducted by the Hong Kong Federation of Asian Domestic Workers Union, 45 percent of Nepalese maids in the city may be receiving less than the government-set minimum wage for such workers.
Although the government has set the monthly minimum wage for foreign helpers at HK$4,210 since Oct. 1 last year, many workers are being short-changed by their employers, the study shows.
Some maids from Nepal claimed that they were being paid as little as HK$1,700, or about 60 percent less than the minimum legal wage.
In addition, about one in two respondents said they get less than 24 hours of rest time every week because their employers do not allow more than that.
Some workers complained that they get time off only for 8 hours a week, TVB reports.
For its survey, the workers’ union interviewed about 100 Nepalese domestic helpers between July and September.
Carol Ng, chairwoman of Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU), was quoted by Sing Tao Daily as saying that it is clear that Nepalese maids have suffered greater exploitation than workers from other countries, such as the Filipinos and Indonesians.
Filipinos and Indonesians together account for about 90 percent of all foreign maids in Hong Kong.
According to Ng, Nepalese workers are being exploited more as they are often less proficient in English and are not fully aware of their rights.
Even if they try to fight for their rights, they usually give up in the end because of the prolonged legal process, she said.
Taking advantage of the situation, some employers have deliberately exploited the workers, which is a shame for a developed society like Hong Kong, Ng noted.
HKCTU urged the government to strengthen efforts to educate both employers and foreign maids.
Asked to comment on the survey findings, Secretary for Labour and Welfare Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said his department will do its best to protect the interests of foreign maids, am730 reported.
The government will also review the pay level of the workers on a regular basis, Cheung said.
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