Number of Filipino domestic workers in HK at all-time high

HONG KONG – The number of Filipinos working as domestic helpers in Hong Kong reached a record high over the past year, as the host government appears to have failed to get Myanmar to fill part of the demand.

Statistics from the immigration department show that, as of the end of February this year, there were a total of 173,726 Filipino domestic workers in Hong Kong. (READ: HK Labor Department probes abuse of Filipino migrant worker

This was an increase of nearly 7,000 for the same period last year, when a total number of 166,743 Filipino domestics were recorded.

In contrast, the number of Indonesians remained nearly the same at about 150,000.

This has resulted in an even bigger gap in the statistics between the two nationalities. The previous year, there were only about 15,000 more Filipinos than Indonesians.

Not too long ago, the Indonesians actually outnumbered Filipinos in Hong Kong.

The numbers indicate that the Philippines has been steadily meeting the increase in market demand in Hong Kong.

The total foreign domestic workers population now stands at 331,989.

Meanwhile, recent reports indicate that efforts to get the growing demand met by workers from other countries are not succeeding.

The latest experiment to bring in workers from Myanmar appear to have failed when the only recruitment agency allowed to broker the deal shut its doors at the end of last month.

The proprietor of Golden Mind Recruitment Agency said labor officers from Myanmar had stopped communicating with him after he brought in 200 workers from the said country.

He said he lost $2 million from operating the agency, which catered solely to recruiting Myanmese domestic workers to Hong Kong.

Of the 200 maids that he brought in, 50 quit soon after, reflecting the difficulty in adjustment for the mainly Muslim workers.

The recruiter said Myanmar's change of heart must have been the result of the high-profile case of abuse committed by the employer of Indonesian domestic worker Erwiana Sulistyaningsih.

Earlier, an experiment to get workers from Bangladesh also failed to work.

Of the 5,000 Bangladeshi maids expected to take up jobs in Hong Kong under a deal struck between the two governments in 2013, only 270 came. Of these, 20% have gone back home, largely as a result of their contracts being terminated prematurely.

Dhaka authorities said they were concerned about the mistreatment of its workers, citing one incident where a Bangladeshi worker was scalded with hot water by her employer. – 

Story republished with permission from The Sun-HK, a content partner of Rappler