Hong Kong – In line with the celebration of 2019 National Women’s Month, the Philippine Consulate General in Hong Kong organized a public dialogue between Kenneth Leung, a leading advocate for migrant workers’ rights in the Hong Kong Legislative Council (LegCo) and Filipino household service workers (HSWs), entitled “Kapihan with Kenneth (Kaffeeklatsch with Kenneth): A Talk on Migrant Workers’ Rights” at the Consulate Chancery on March 24, 2019.
Mr. Leung is noted for having tabled, along with another Legco member, Dennis Kwok, the “Modern Slavery Bill”, which tackles all forms of modern slavery including human trafficking, forced marriage and sex tourism. The talk focused on rights of foreign domestic helpers (FDHs)–the local term for HSWs–in Hong Kong, who number over 390,000, more than 214,000 of whom are Filipinos.
“This event is a historic one given this is the first time a member of the (Hong Kong) Legislative Council will conduct a talk with the Filipino community,” said Consul General to Hong Kong Antonio A. Morales during his opening remarks. “I also admire him for his sincerity in pushing for advocacies such as human rights, non-discrimination and resolution of labor issues, especially on migrant workers.”
Consul General Morales further noted that a recently released report by Enrich Hong Kong, in partnership with Frost and Sullivan, estimated the economic contribution of FDHs in Hong Kong at US$12.6 billion or 3.6 percent of Hong Kong GDP.
During his presentation, Mr. Leung discussed different issues that FDHs face in Hong Kong, including employment agencies, loan contracts, medical insurance, and remedies in case of complaints. He further stressed that he and LegCo welcome suggestions from the Filipino Community to improve the working conditions of HSWs and migrant workers in general.
Lewis Silkin law office lawyer Louise Le Pla, a foreign registered lawyer in Hong Kong, then proceeded to dissect and discuss each of the clauses of a standard Hong Kong employment contract for HSWs and gave practical tips on employment protection, such as fully understanding the provisions of the contract, to labor-related issues.