Here are the latest news updates about overseas Filipino workers in Hong Kong. Compiled and updated regularly by your team at Pinoy OFW.
How Hong Kong Protests Impact Filipino Workers
As protests have hit Hong Kong for the 16th straight week, economic numbers have painted a bleak picture for the city’s pillar industries. Filipinos who make a living in the special administrative region have also felt the pinch as the 40% decline in visitors in August have started to make their jobs look vulnerable.
Lower occupancy rates have prompted hotels to reduce not only their room rates but also the number of nights they offer live performances. Cancellation of special events amid security concerns have aggravated the situation. Such performances have been a significant source of income for many Filipino musicians in Hong Kong over the years. For Manuela Lo, chairperson of the Hong Kong Musicians Union, this is beyond their control.
“We can’t do anything at the moment, we all know business has been bad,” she lamented over the ability of HKMU to help affected members.
A massive drop in visitors to Hong Kong meant there are now shorter lines queuing to enter Ocean Park and Hong Kong Disneyland. Both theme parks employ dozens of Filipinos mainly as entertainers.
Hermie Santos, who serves as an agent for entertainers to work at Ocean Park, barely escaped getting hit by the economic repercussions of the looming downturn. His talents signed up a new contract just before visitor numbers plummeted so they are assured of their contract pay, according to a report by The SUN.
Filipino transport workers
Philippine Airlines used to serve four daily flights between Hong Kong and Manila but has now reduced it to three. It hasn’t ruled our cutting back further flights if the situation does not improve anytime soon. Rival Cebu Pacific decided to keep the usual frequency of four flights between Hong Kong and Manila.
Filipino hotel workers
The anti-government protests, which had turned more violent in recent weeks, brought the hotel industry into dire straits. Although no official numbers are immediately available on how many Filipinos work in the industry, hotels have been stung deeply by the protests. Around 77% of hotel workers have been asked to go on unpaid leave for at least three days, according to media reports. A survey by the Hotels, Food and Beverage Employees Association also revealed that 46% of the workers believe their salaries could be cut by as much as $3,000 per month.
Filipino shops have understandably been affected by the ongoing wave of protests. The protests aimed at the Hong Kong government has crippled the transport system and brought chaos into the streets over the past several weekends. This has affected Filipinos who usually take their days off on Sundays.
Joy Tan, who owns a shop in WorldWide Plaza, lamented that a peak in business activity happens during the weekends when domestic workers are having their days off. But such protest actions have resulted in her failing to make enough to cover rent.
Filipino domestic workers
Despite security risks amid violent protest actions, Filipino domestic workers remain confident in staying with their jobs in Hong Kong rather than return to the Philippines. While their weekend activities have been severely curtailed, their jobs remained stable.
“The number of employment contracts being processed at the Consulate has remained steady despite the crisis, so it means the demand is still there, and that employers are willing to continue paying a just wage to their helpers,” said Dolores Balladares-Pelaez of the Asian Migrants Coordinating Body. The group has been pressing for HK$5,894 wage for foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong.
If the situation doesn’t show signs of abating, the prospect of wage cuts — just like what other businesses have been starting to prescribe to their workers — among domestic workers is also a possibility. In the wake of the SARS epidemic in 2003, the minimum salary for foreign domestic workers was cut by HK$400, accounting for more than 10% of their wags back then.