To meet the high demand for foreign domestic helpers in the city, the Hong Kong government is set to open the market to Cambodia.
Paying a visit to Hong Kong on Monday, Dr. Ith Samheng, Cambodia’s minister of labor and vocational training, met with Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Gregory So Kam-Leung and Secretary for Labor and Welfare Stephen Sui Wai-keung separately to discuss the employment of Cambodian maids in the city, including their legal protection and terms of employment, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
The visit came after the Immigration Department relaxed visa restrictions for Cambodian visitors and allowed them to work in Hong Kong as domestic helpers last month.
Simon Liu Wing-hing, chairman of the Cambodia Human Resource Development Association of Hong Kong, which has been commissioned by the Cambodian government to help promote, train and protect Cambodian maids in Hong Kong, said the first group of about 1,000 people will arrive in Hong Kong as early as September.
All of them have junior high school diplomas and work experience in Malaysia, Liu said.
The long-term goal is to import 10,000 Cambodian maids annually, he added.
For some time, the association has been offering training courses for qualified candidates in Cambodia, including Cantonese language, Chinese cooking, and health care for children and the elderly, according to Liu.
At present, more than one million Cambodians are working overseas.
Job opportunities in the country are unable to cope with the growth in the working population, while the average monthly income is only about US$153, compared with the minimum pay of US$550 earned by a foreign maid in Hong Kong, according to data from the association.
Indo Indah, one of the 10 employment agencies chosen to act as intermediaries between Cambodian maids and Hong Kong families, said the Cambodian labor ministry has promised to allow qualified maids to fly to Hong Kong 10-14 days after they are issued working visas, compared with four to five months needed to process Indonesian maids.
The agency hopes the Cambodian maids in Hong Kong will be as good as those from Thailand, who are generally considered honest and hard-working.
Betty Yung Ma Shan-yee, who chairs the Hong Kong Employers of Overseas Domestic Helpers Association, said adding one more source of domestic helpers will be welcomed by local families.
She appealed to the government to coordinate with its Cambodian counterpart to make sure employment agencies are well monitored.
Leo Tang, organizing secretary of the Hong Kong Federation of Asian Domestic Workers Unions, said the entry of Cambodian maids should have no major impact on the market.
Introducing them to Hong Kong is more of a way to increase the business opportunities for employment agencies, Tang said, noting that there is really no serious shortage of foreign maids in the city as some quarters have been claiming.
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