Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Pitfalls for Hong Kong maid program

Pitfalls for Hong Kong maid program

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A trainee maid receives instructions from a supervisor while practising skills at a training school in Phnom Penh in 2013. Pha Lina

Pitfalls for Hong Kong maid program

The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training said its pilot project to send domestic maids to Hong Kong last December was “not a success” as the wages in the Asian financial hub were not lucrative enough.

Ministry spokesman Heng Sour said the wages offered by Hong Kong employers were similar to what workers could earn at home. That, he said, made it unattractive for Cambodians.

“People prefer to stay and work in Cambodia rather than work as a domestic helper in Malaysia or Hong Kong. The host country needs to relook at the salary structure,” he said.

Sour said more than 10 companies were granted licences to recruit maids for Hong Kong but only four managed to send workers, and at present less than 40 maids are working in that country.

Teng Patama, administrative officer of the Ung Rithy group, a recruitment agency, claimed that about 20 Cambodians are now working as maids in Hong Kong and another 10 will join them next month.

“So far we have sent around 20 maids to Hong Kong and they went at different times, sometimes only one or two persons were willing to go."

“We are not sending them in groups as they have to complete the application process,” she said, adding that so far they have not received any complaints of mistreatments by Hong Kong employers.

Patama said her company helped the workers to get jobs with higher incomes. Wages in Hong Kong are high and there is adequate legal protection for maids, and no abuse or harassment from employers so far.

“They have full freedom to communicate with their families as well. They are allowed to use phones and even communicate via Facebook, so we know how they are doing there,” she said.

According to Patama, without overtime allowances, a worker could earn $570 per month.

The agency provides training before the maids are sent to Hong Kong to ensure they have the basic skills and are able to adapt well in the host country.

“We taught them the basic skills required of a domestic worker. Those with experience and who understand the language were quick to learn within three months,” she said.

Moeun Tola, from the Center for Alliance of Labour and Human Rights or Central, said the complaints they heard from workers in Hong Kong were verbal harassments, violence such as hitting, maids forced to work long hours and perform jobs that are not included in the contract.

“For example, maids are asked to wipe mirrors or window glass in high rise Hong Kong apartments.

“They need to be well-trained in Chinese and English languages so they understand the local culture. Working in Hong Kong is generally better than in Malaysia. We should consider pre-departure programs to train our maids,” he said.

Meanwhile, the ministry has given permission to selected companies to legally send Cambodian workers to countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Qatar, Kuwait, Hong Kong and Japan.

Sour said this was necessary to ensure workers are not cheated by unscrupulous agents.

MOST VIEWED

  • NY sisters inspired by Khmer heritage

    Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, Cambodian-American sisters Edo and Eyen Chorm have always felt a deep affinity for their Cambodian heritage and roots. When the pair launched their own EdoEyen namesake jewellery brand in June, 2020, they leaned heavily into designs inspired by ancient Khmer

  • Schools drawn into Manet degree row

    Prime Minister Hun Sen stepped into the Hun Manet-Sam Rainsy war of words over the validity of Manet’s degree from the US Military Academy at West Point, set off by Rainsy’s claims that Manet had received a “second-class degree” or “honorary degree”. Hun

  • Cambodia records first Omicron community case

    The Ministry of Health on January 9 reported 30 new Covid-19 cases, 29 of which were imported and all were confirmed to be the Omicron variant. The ministry also reported 11 recoveries and no new deaths. Earlier on January 9, the ministry also announced that it had detected the Kingdom's

  • The effects of the USD interest rate hike on Cambodian economy

    Experts weigh in on the effect of a potential interest rate expansion by the US Federal Reserve on a highly dollarised Cambodia Anticipation of the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike in March is putting developing economies on edge, a recent blog post by

  • PM eyes Myanmar peace troika

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has suggested that ASEAN member states establish a tripartite committee or diplomatic troika consisting of representatives from Cambodia, Brunei and Indonesia that would be tasked with mediating a ceasefire in Myanmar. The premier also requested that Nippon Foundation chairman Yohei Sasakawa

  • Kampot tourism quay ‘90% done’

    Construction on Kampot International Tourism Port – a 4ha quay in Teuk Chhou district about 6km west of Kampot town – has fallen off track, reaching 90 per cent completion, according to a senior Ministry of Tourism official last week. The project is now planned to be finished