Migrant groups find proposed bill discriminatory

Migrant workers in Macau

public consultation report issued by the government indicates that nearly 90 percent of the 2,461 opinions support the exclusion of domestic workers from the minimum wage.

During the 45-day public consultation that began in November 2017, over 90 percent of opinions supported the minimum wage legislation.

However, migrant groups are not satisfied with the report, calling the bill (which recommends the exclusion of domestic workers and people with disabilities) discriminatory.

Nedie Taberdo, chairperson of the Greens Philippines Migrant Workers Union (GPMWU) slammed the report, saying that the treatment to domestic workers in Macau is akin to modern slavery. “This is not just unfair. It is blatant discrimination and slavery. With no labor protection, no minimum wage, no time limit of work, not to mention those who are not given decent food, it could be likened to slavery,” Taberdo told the Times. “They keep on proposing [bills] that worsen our situation.” Taberdo noted that if the hiring of domestic helpers in China becomes legal soon, many will opt to move out of Macau to go for “higher paid offers and better labor protection.”
Meanwhile, some in the report claimed that wages in Macau are already far higher than those in the domestic helpers’ places of origin, hence calling for their exclusion from the minimum wage protection bill. Others suggested that these vulnerable groups should not receive minimum wage as they reside in their employers’ residence.

Yosa Wariyanti, president of the Indonesian Migrant Workers Union, lamented that city has turned a blind eye to household workers, disregarding their contribution to the lives of local residents. “We also suffer from paying high rents in Macau, then with transportation and medical fees, [so] increasing the salary of migrant workers will improve our welfare and we can work better with less worries about our needs,” said Wariyanti.

The two migrant groups hope that the government will also consider proposing bills to benefit domestic workers.
However, in the report the Labor Affairs Bureau said that it would recommend exempting domestic helpers from minimum wage protection in future legislation, due to the “uniqueness of the nature” of their jobs. It also noted that their salaries will be examined and assessed against the going market rate when a work permit application is made.

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