overseas Filipinos

Hundreds of thousands of Filipino workers in Taiwan, Hong Kong getting wage hikes

Bea Cupin

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Hundreds of thousands of Filipino workers in Taiwan, Hong Kong getting wage hikes

MIGRANT WORKERS. Filipino migrant workers take their day off in Central, Hong Kong, on April 23, 2023.

Michelle Abad/Rappler

The increases are expected beginning in the last quarter of 2023 and January 2024

MANILA, Philippines (1st UPDATE) – Filipinos working in nearby Taiwan and Hong Kong stand to benefit from wage increases for certain sectors beginning in the last quarter of 2023 and January 2024.

Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) are a huge source of income for the Philippines. Government data indicates that OFW remittances account for 8.9% of Gross Domestic Product.

The Philippines’ labor export was institutionalized under the dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos and continues under the presidency of his son, Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Taiwan

In Taiwan, a new wage order means a 4.05% increase in the monthly minimum salary, currently set at NT$ 26,400 (P46,378.70) to NT$27,470 (P48,223.43), the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) said in a release on Wednesday, December 27.

The minimum hourly wage in the democratically-run Taiwan will also increase from NT$168 (P295.14) to NT$175 (P307.43).

Some 151,562 Filipinos are working in Taiwan as of October 2023, said the DMW, citing numbers from Taiwan’s Ministry of Labor. Of that number, 123,768 in the manufacturing sector will benefit from the new wage rates when they kick in on January 1, 2024.

Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, a Special Administrative Region of China, a new wage order means foreign domestic helpers or household service workers will be getting a minimum allowable wage of HK$4,870 or P38,010.35, up from HK$4,730 or P36,917.65. Food allowances for foreign domestic helpers will also be increasing – from HK$1,196 or P9,334.78 to HK$1,236 or P9,649.98.

Wage increases in Hong Kong cover contracts signed on or after September 30, 2023.

Some 40,000 Filipinos working as domestic helpers or household service workers who are newly-hired or have fresh contracts will be benefiting from the wage increase, said the DMW, citing data from the Migrant Workers Office in Hong Kong. There are more than 196,000 OFWs in Hong Kong who work as domestic helpers or household service workers.

DMW officer-in-charge Hans Leo Cacdac thanked Taiwan and Hong Kong for “enacting wage legislation that recognizes the work of our OFWs and their contribution to the economic development of their host countries.”

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Labor export

The Filipino diaspora not only shapes the Philippine economy. It also influences the Philippines’ security and diplomatic policies.

When discussing tensions in Taiwan, an independently-governed country claimed by China as its own, the Philippines’ security policy under Marcos emphasizes both its proximity to the country and the number of Filipinos living there.

Chinese Ambassador to Manila Huang Xilian caused a stir after he warned that Manila should oppose “Taiwan independence” instead of opening up more military bases to American boots “if you care genuinely about the 150,000 OFWs.”

While his statements were read as a threat by certain sectors, Marcos himself downplayed the meaning of Huang’s words.

The Philippines, like many countries, observes a One China policy while still maintaining economic and cultural ties with Taiwan through the Manila Economic and Cultural Office, the Philippines’ representative in Taiwan and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative, Taiwan’s representation in Manila.

The welfare of overseas Filipino workers has always been a major component of Philippine embassies and consulates abroad. In Manila, there exists an Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs. The work of this office continues, despite the establishment of the DMW.

While popular and seemingly permanent, the Philippines’ labor export policy is also tied to social woes – in particular, how Filipino families are torn apart. – Rappler.com

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.