Despite the COVID19 restrictions and all kind of suppressions, workers are resilient. Without resilience, without struggle, there will be no way to get light for our plight. On International Labour Day, migrant domestic workers (MDWs) leaders from Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau, and Singapore join together at an online assembly. FADWU Hong Kong initiates the assembly.
Our call from the migrant domestic workers in Asia
– Joint statement from the participants of May Day Online Assembly
Despite the COVID19 restrictions and all kind of suppressions, workers are resilient. Without resilience, without struggle, there will be no way to get light for our plight. On International Labour Day, migrant domestic workers (MDWs) leaders from Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau, and Singapore join together at an online assembly. FADWU Hong Kong initiates the assembly. It is joined by IDWF affiliates in Asia that organize migrant domestic workers and allied MDWs organizations. They are NDWT Thailand, AMMPO Malaysia and DCU Taiwan, – AMMPO Singapore, PLU Macau, PERTIMIG Malaysia and UUDW Hong Kong. The 50 MDW leaders at the online assembly express their anger against the heightened discrimination they face and the suffering that migrant domestic workers are ignored and neglected by the governments.
Adding to the pressure of the pandemic is the non-stop crackdown of democracy in Myanmar by the military coup. “We stand in solidarity with the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) movement”, claimed Champa, Burmese MDW in NDWT Thailand. Burmese migrants abroad are worried about the destiny of their country and their families and friends. Up to date, more than 700 people killed, many are arrested and displaced. All this violence has to be stopped! We also see there has been a rise of tyranny and labour repressions in Asia. We denounce all these suppressions. We will never surrender.
During the pandemic, domestic workers and migrants face discrimination. Sadly, the governments are taking the lead in promoting racism. Calling for stay-at-home during MDWs’ dayoffs is the same as scrapping workers’ right to dayoffs. MDWs are being picked for mandatory swab test and vaccination. The governments are depicting MDWs as stigmatizing MDWs as potential virus carriers. The announcement of the Hong Kong government yesterday to impose mandatory swab test and vaccination on contract renewal is a discriminatory policy against MDWs. Its move is a cover-up of its failed epidemic policy – it was found that a swab test was not properly done that may lead to an outbreak in Hong Kong. FADWU Hong Kong condemns the government-led discrimination and calls for proper management of the pandemic.
Governments are worried about migrants infecting their employers. Still, when workers are infected with COVID 19 by their employers, MDWs do not necessarily get free medical treatment. NDWT Thailand has members who have got infected with COVID 19 from their employers, but the employers nor the government helped cover the workers’ medical treatment.
“We have been taking preventative measures and keep hygiene from the coronavirus, but some employers keep on bringing friends home and partying.” Malee, president of NDWT Thailand, exclaimed on the unfairness.
Fairness and justice are much needed in times of difficulties. In Thailand, Malaysia and Macau, many MDWs have lost their jobs, and some are left with no food. However, they are rejected from governments’ relief. Border closures or limited flights increase the cost of migration. Employers and employment agencies are making use of this situation to scrap their wages and overcharge them for employment agencies. “Employers don’t want to bear the quarantine fee. Transfer fee to a new contract is now expensive. We’ve in heavy economic burden, but we are charged more.” said Bonang of DCU Taiwan. It’s been an ongoing struggle against the excessive agency fee charged on workers.
Furthermore, governments’ policies and measures are confusing. Governments of destinations do not consult with the government of origins, not to say consultations with workers. The measures are sudden, uncoordinated, and in the end, it’s the workers to suffer from the policy gaps and failures.
“We fight for recognition of us as workers. However, the Malaysian government takes us as ‘servants’, and we have no rights.” claimed Liezl, coordinator of AMMPO Malaysia. The demand for recognition of domestic workers as workers are echoed by Rosalie of AMMPO Singapore and other Assembly participants.
We say no more abuses. Especially in the difficult times, the poor and the marginalized need protection, not discrimination. We demand the following:
- Free COVID 19 vaccines and swab test and medical treatment to all. No mandatory vaccination but of free choice of workers; Clear information with language translations for migrants;
- Clear bilateral and multilateral policies between governments of destinations and origins, made in consultations among governments and with workers;
- Freedom for a work transfer. Allow visa extension of workers in the destinations to look for jobs;
- Stop excessive agency fees charged on workers;
- Support and relief for jobless workers and workers in need;
- Fight coronavirus together. Employers and everyone should take pandemic prevention measures;
- Stop Discrimination! Establish Anti-discrimination laws and policies
- Freedom and Democracy for all. Stand with Myanmar.
FADWU, Hong Kong
UUDW, Hong Kong, and
IDWF – International Domestic Workers Federation