Monday, August 10, 2009

Hong Kong Christian groups launch network to safeguard migrant workers

Hong Kong Christian groups have set up an ecumenical network to look after the basic labour rights of hundreds of thousands of migrant workers, who are to be denied protection under proposed local laws.

To urge the Hong Kong government to include migrant workers in its minimum wage legislation, local Roman Catholics and Protestants formally launched the network on 19 July, in the city's business centre on the open floor under the headquarters of Hong Kong Bank.

This is a concreted-in area where thousands of migrant workers spend their days off, chatting and sharing food and yarns.

At the urging of non-governmental organizations including Christian groups, the Hong Kong government has agreed to implement minimum wage legislation within two years, but it intends to exclude at least 200 000 migrant workers from coverage.

The government has said that many migrant workers, of whom a substantial number come from the Philippines, work as domestic helpers in this Special Administrative Region of China. Many of these domestic workers live in the same residence as their employers, and the government argues it is impractical to accurately document their working time.

The network to protect the migrant workers includes a number of Christian bodies such as the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission, the Catholic Labour Affairs Commission and the ecumenical Hong Kong Christian Institute. (ENI)

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