Our Desk | Shame on the absence of rights protection

Lynzy Valles

It is still quite absurd that the region does not have laws that protect the rights of its domestic workers.

Last week, approximately 25 Filipino and Indonesian domestic helpers working in Macau celebrated International Migrants Day by holding a silent protest nearby Nam Van Lake.

The group continued their call for the protection of domestic workers’ rights in the MSAR.

Domestic workers remain one of the most undervalued communities in many regions, and their occupation is one of the least regulated forms of employment.

Although millions of domestic workers are still excluded from protection in their country’s labor laws, two wrongs do not make a right. It is shameful for this region to not update their labor decrees.

And if they ever do, it does not help to increase the quality of life of these vulnerable groups.

Figures from the Statistics and Census Service (DSEC) showed that in the third quarter of 2016, the region accommodated 25,300 domestic employees.

In the third quarter of 2015, there were 23,600 domestic workers, a 7.2 percent and a 17 percent growth compared to figures in 2014.

This shows an increasing demand for the region to uphold a protection law for these workers.

The region’s lack in progress for the betterment of this sector shows incompetence, but a constant surge in the sector’s numbers is expected to continue.

The International Domestic Workers Federation this year revealed that Asia scores low on labor law protection for domestic workers – pertinent information, as over 35 percent of domestic workers worldwide are accounted for in Asia.

These migrant workers continue to face discrimination and marginalization despite the critical services they provide to families.

In the silent protest last week, the workers expressed their need for the local government to protect them.

The Times reported that many members of vulnerable groups refuse to voice their concerns, as there is no protection for them.

This kind of protection should be prioritized. It should not even be discussed whether the MSAR will grant them the protection they seek.

These are the kinds of rights that Macau should have facilitated years ago, and sadly, despite the outcries of these workers, it seems that lawmakers are turning a blind eye to them.

How could the region afford to accommodate some 25,000 domestic employees when they could not provide protection for them?

Needless to say, the mere detail that the region has no written minimum wage for domestic workers is already bizarre. Yes, these are the workers that are working to fill the demand to sustain families. Employers should bring this modern-day slavery to an end.

A group of workers is putting pressure on employers to grant them an increase in their salaries, citing that the pay hike should be in line with the 2.46 percent salary increase announced for civil servants. The group stressed that salaries should be adjusted along with the inflation in the cost of living in the city.

These are just one of the pressures that domestic helpers in the region wish they could enact, but prefer not to due to the lack of rights protection.

These workers remained silent on their steady housing allowance of MOP500 despite the surge of house rents several years ago. These are the workers that were discreet despite long-working hours, and they are also justified in taking part in demonstrations.

Categories Opinion