Monday, 1 June 2009

The Maids Day Off - Hong Kong

It's very common in Hong Kong for people to have a maid. Before you ask - No - we don't have one...yet. Given my current job prospects, I'm considering being one but I hate cleaning, babysitting and general house duties so I'm not sure I'm cut out for it or it's highly probable I won't advance very quickly up the maid career ladder.

Usually they are from the Philipines, Indonesia or Malaysia and often leave their family including husband and kids to work extremely hard to send a portion of the little money they make home.

The current maid monthly salary is approx HKD$3,500 (u$d450, 270GBP, 315Euros) for 6 long days a week as a live in 12-14 hour a day nanny, cleaner, chef, dog walker, car washer and in some cases comfort companion - nudge nudge -wink wink - frown!

Often they are asked to sleep in a storage room instead of a bedroom and frequently over worked and underpaid.

Many of them head to Victoria Park in Causeway Bay here in the centre of Hong Kong for their one day a week off work (Sunday), to meet up wth friends. They gather in huge groups which in itself turns into a bit of a spectacle.

Some might call it exploitation. Others might say market price. What's your thoughts?

Tags: .The Maids Day Off - Hong Kong..

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TCL June 02, 2009 12:21 pm  

You might see the same in Taipei although not to the same degree. The worst I saw was in Doha. It seemed like they were treated no better than cattle there.

NicoleB June 02, 2009 2:02 pm  

I didn't know this was happening in Hong Kong as well.
I've seen it in the Middle East.
In Korea they work in Bars as juicy girls :(

Nomadic Matt June 02, 2009 11:18 pm  

the maids here in thailand are from burma. how they are treated depends on the owner but overall, they are cheap labor and since most are illegal, there's no standards for treating workers....sure the same is in HK.

nick June 03, 2009 3:44 am  

Exploitation undoubtedly. Such a miserable wage, such long hours, sleeping in storage rooms, doing every conceivable menial job - what kind of life is that? It's about time domestic staff had some kind of charter to limit what can be expected of them.

Susan June 03, 2009 7:23 am  

Well, I'm off to tell the Husband he's owing me 315 euros for each of the past 371 months. Wonder how that will go over?


Being serious now (or depressed), I've heard the same thing in America, with illegal Hispanic maids who are overworked and abused and don't feel they have any recourse; they stay so their kids can go to a better school and have more opportunities than what they left.


Quickroute June 03, 2009 8:06 am  

@TCL: Seems to be the same all over then

@Nicole B: 'juicy girls' - pro's I presume!

@Matt: They have little or no rights here either

@Nick: yeah - no help for the little people as usual

@Susan: Good luck collecting on that debt! - seems to be happening all over alright - I know the polish weren't treated too well in many cases in Ireland either

TCL June 03, 2009 10:13 am  

Well the hotel I stayed at in Doha also treated 6 foot tall Swedish blond waitresses like they grow on trees.

Stevo June 03, 2009 11:37 am  

The sad part is that without the Filipina domestic workers in HK (and other overseas Filipinos) sending money home the country would have almost no economy. I've read different estimates - 40% to 60% of the economy is based on money being sent from other nations.

I wouldn't say exploitation. They don't have to work in Hong Kong.

I know English teachers in China that make about the same.

Baino June 03, 2009 8:29 pm  

I guess it depends what they would be paid in their home countries. I'm guessing that it's worth the exploitation to be able to send money home. I'm also guessing many are illegal and so don't speak up about their conditions. Clare was an unpaid au pair for 6 weeks in Surrey in England, free food and board but had to work 11 hours a day for it.

Anonymous,  February 25, 2010 11:55 am  

Well there are places in HK where the maids actually sit in cardboard boxes outside and play cards to pass the time on sundays since they have nowhere to go...being from SWMissouri I really dont relate to the concept of having no place to go:P

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