HONG KONG: The government said yesterday it will slash the minimum wage for foreign maids by HK$400 (RM193) per month, drawing criticism from Filipino activists who warned the heartless'' local officials will end up hurting their own economy.
Hong Kong's more than 200,000 live-in domestic servants, most of them from the Philippines, had been fearing a reduction in their HK$3,670 (RM1,786) monthly salaries. Numerous protests and lobbying by their governments failed to keep their pay intact.
Hong Kong's No. 2 official, Chief Secretary for Administration Donald Tsang, announced the monthly cut in the maid salaries would take effect with contracts signed April 1 or later.
Tsang said employers of foreign maids also will be forced to pay a monthly levy equal to the pay cut, as of Oct 1, with the cash to be used for training local workers.
We think employers of foreign domestic workers should contribute to the training and retraining of the local working population,'' Tsang said in the Legislative Council.
Several maids protested outside and their activist advocates were sharply critical.
These people are heartless,'' said Emmanuel Villanueva, secretary-general of the United Filipinos in Hong Kong.
Villanueva said Hong Kong's government was making a big economic mistake, cutting the pay of the maids shortly after it announced reductions in welfare payments and cuts in the salaries of civil servants.
That will take away spending power from hundreds of thousands of people locally, harming small businesses and leading to more unemployment in Hong Kong, which has been struggling economically, Villanueva predicted in a telephone interview. AP
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