Helpers protest against 'discriminatory' Covid rules - RTHK
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Helpers protest against 'discriminatory' Covid rules

2021-05-05 HKT 14:48
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  • Domestic workers started queueing up as early as 5am to get tested for Covid after the government issued a mandatory testing order. File photo: RTHK
    Domestic workers started queueing up as early as 5am to get tested for Covid after the government issued a mandatory testing order. File photo: RTHK
Maggie Ho reports
A concern group for foreign domestic workers on Wednesday called on the government to withdraw its mandatory testing order for all helpers, as it also demanded an apology from Labour Secretary Law Chi-kwong for his “discriminatory” remarks against migrant workers.

Dolores Balladares from the Asian Migrants’ Coordinating Body said helpers are not opposed to getting tests, but it’s unfair for the government to order more than 370,000 of them to get tested by May 9 after one of them was infected by an unknown source.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the order was based on the risk faced by the profession, in much the same way elderly care home staff have been ordered to get regular tests – but Balladares said it was not a fair comparison.

“We reside in our employers’ homes, we care for our employers’ families, while other industries interact with multiple people, patients, visitors and co-workers,” she said.

“The government should stop using unfair comparison to justify implementing unfair policies that targeted migrant domestic workers,” she added.

She also slammed the city’s labour and welfare secretary for “horrible behaviour and disparaging remarks”.

After the government proposed requiring all workers renewing their contracts to get vaccinated, Law Chi-kwong said helpers who don’t want to be vaccinated can choose not to work here.

“Government officials should set an example for the people about how to treat others with respect and dignity, and not to put any group of society in position where they are a target of discrimination,” said Balladares.

The government has since said the plan for compulsory vaccinations for helpers has not been finalised, and it will consult experts and consuls-general to see whether they should go ahead with it.

Johannie Tong, a representative of the Mission for Migrant Workers, said the government should also hold consultations with helpers’ organisations before rolling out anti-epidemic measures related to them, because they are stakeholders too.