NEWSFLASH

FIRS BATCH OF PINOY MAIDS TO START WORK IN SHENZHEN NEXT MONTH

HONG KONG, January 14, 2003 (STAR)  A first batch of domestic maids from the Philippines will soon be heading to work in the Chinese city of Shenzhen just across the border from Hong Kong, it was reported yesterday.

Twenty domestic helpers recruited from the Philippines will work for families of expatriates including those from Hong Kong and Taiwan. They will begin around Chinese lunar new year on Feb. 1, the pro-Beijing Ta Kung Pao newspaper reported.

The domestic helpers will have a monthly wage of around 3,000 yuan ($366), which is below Hong Kong’s current minimum wage for foreign domestic helpers of HK$3,670.

The report said the first quota was immediately filled as demand for domestic helpers from the Philippines was growing fast as more and more foreign businessmen were settling in Shenzhen.

The paper said talks with the Philippine labor department were still going on to recruit more domestic helpers to work in China’s richest special economic zone.

Connie Bragas-Regalado, spokeswoman for the Asian Migrant Coordinating Body, welcomed the news.

"At least it will give Filipino domestic helpers another option to work elsewhere," she said, referring to the Hong Kong government’s plans to impose a new tax on foreign domestic helpers and possible cuts to their minimum wage salaries.

"At the same time, it is sad as it indicates there are no jobs available at home, as the (Philippine) government is still trying to export workers abroad," she said.

Thousands of foreign domestic workers have staged a series of rallies to protest a proposal by legislator and Liberal Party Chairman James Tien to impose a HK$500 ($64) a month levy on the employers of foreign maids in Hong Kong.

The government is expected to hold talks on possible cuts to minimum wage levels later this month.

Tien also suggested reducing their minimum wages by the same amount to HK$3,170, a cut of 14 percent.

The majority of the 240,000 foreign domestic helpers are from the Philippines with Indonesia and Thailand also important sources.


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