'Govt must probe state of migrant worker hostels' - RTHK
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'Govt must probe state of migrant worker hostels'

2020-08-09 HKT 14:53
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  • The Caritas Asian Migrant Workers Social Service Project says the government should set minimum standards for boarding houses for migrant workers. Photo: RTHK
    The Caritas Asian Migrant Workers Social Service Project says the government should set minimum standards for boarding houses for migrant workers. Photo: RTHK
An NGO has urged the government to carry out inspections of boarding houses for foreign domestic workers, saying many places are cramped and poorly ventilated.

The call, from the Caritas Asian Migrant Workers Social Service Project, came as the authorities announced they would offer all residents of such hostels free coronavirus tests.

Last week, two helpers who had stayed in boarding houses while in between jobs were diagnosed with the virus, raising fears other guests could also have been infected.

Man Si I, a social worker from the NGO, said minimum standards for such hostels should be set and enforced by the government.

"While the Labour Department is the licensing authority of employment agencies, we believe that the government has the leading role to monitor their operations of boarding houses as well," she said.

"They should carry out regular inspections, or even investigations or prosecutions, to ensure that the accommodations of these agencies are meeting the standards."

The group also urged employers to make sure their workers are able to go out and meet friends on their weekly day off.

A helper taking part in the NGO's press conference on Sunday, Vivildz, said many of her friends are banned from leaving their employers' homes because of the Covid-19 outbreak, and their mental wellbeing is suffering because of this.

"Helpers stay at home and the employers also stay at home. It's very stressful. They don't have any freedom … they don't have any social life, they don't have any happiness," she said.