SLW meets Indonesian Minister of Manpower (with photos)

     The Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, today (August 24) met the visiting high-level delegation led by the Minister of Manpower of Indonesia, Mr Hanif Dhakiri.

     They exchanged views on a range of issues on Indonesian domestic helpers (IDHs), including placement and training, employment rights and benefits of IDHs in Hong Kong and efforts made by both governments on protecting IDHs, as well as the costs incurred by them before their arrival in Hong Kong to work as foreign domestic helpers (FDHs).

     Mr Cheung appreciated the significant contribution of IDHs to Hong Kong. He stressed that the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government is committed to protecting the rights of FDHs.

     At the meeting, Mr Cheung also expressed the concern of the HKSAR Government that some IDHs might have to pay a huge amount of intermediary and training fees in Indonesia, resulting in heavy debts before coming to Hong Kong. He hoped that the Indonesian Government would undertake further measures to reduce the fees charged by Indonesian-based employment agencies on IDHs, or to consider offering loans of lower interest to IDHs. It was agreed that the two governments would continue to work together to enhance the transparency of the training and placement fees and to strengthen the monitoring over recruitment agencies to prevent IDHs from being charged any fees that are not permitted under the laws by the two governments.

     Both labour ministers reaffirmed their commitment in working together closely to protect IDHs in Hong Kong, and acknowledged the bilateral inter-governmental mechanism of the two places was the most effective channel for discussing and resolving issues in relation to IDHs.  To strengthen bilateral co-operation, it was agreed that both governments would continue the high-level contacts of senior officials of both sides to update each other on their policies and efforts on protecting FDHs.

     Currently, there are around 150 000 IDHs in Hong Kong, accounting for 45 per cent of the total FDH population of 337 000. FDHs, like local workers, enjoy comprehensive statutory employment protection under the Employment Ordinance and the Employees' Compensation Ordinance. They are further protected by a Government-prescribed Standard Employment Contract under which FDHs enjoy wage protection through the Minimum Allowable Wage and a range of in-kind benefits including free food, free accommodation and medical benefits. In the case of a labour dispute, they have full access to the free consultation and conciliation services, or can call the 24-hour hotline provided by the Labour Department.

     The Labour Department has stepped up its publicity and educational efforts through various channels to raise the awareness of FDHs about their rights. It has also strengthened collaboration with the consulates of FDHs' home countries in Hong Kong to co-ordinate mutual efforts and share intelligence.

     Noting that the Labour Department's participation in the welcoming sessions organised by the Consulate General of Indonesia in Hong Kong for newly arrived domestic helpers was proven successful, Mr Cheung said that the Labour Department stands ready to participate in all sessions so as to reach out to more newly-arrived IDHs.

Ends/Monday, August 24, 2015
Issued at HKT 20:44