Give domestic workers a place to gather
South China Morning Post (Hong Kong)
Every Sunday in Hong Kong, a mass of foreign maids congregate in public places to share food and catch up with friends. A lawmaker recently provoked a furious outcry when she complained that this ritual damages the city’s “environmental hygiene”. To be fair to her, says Albert Cheng, these gatherings do cause some inconvenience. But the responsibility for this “problem” lies not with these mostly Filipino and Indonesian live-in workers, but squarely with legislators and employers who provide them with nowhere else to meet on their days off. Hong Kong’s 350,000 or so foreign domestic workers make up 5% of the population. “Without their help in doing housework and taking care of the young and old”, the city would struggle to function. Rather than expecting them to keep assembling on streets and parks on their days off, let’s develop a proper, central venue for them that can serve as a fixed gathering spot and host cultural activities. It’s in our interest as much as theirs to do so. “With the booming economy in Asia, countries like the Philippines and Indonesia are going to be prosperous one day.” If we don’t treat these workers well, they may not stick around for much longer.