Foreign workers in HK declare victory over wage tax hike

“Victory is ours. The determination of foreign domestic workers to defeat the levy has finally paid off.”

This was declared by Eni Lestari, spokesperson of the Asian Migrants Coordinating Body (AMCB) in response to the abolition of the levy announced by HK Chief Executive CY Leung in his policy address delivered Wednesday.

“Since 2003, we have persistently campaigned against this unjust and discriminatory tax of the Hong Kong government that was actually taken from us with the HK$400 wage cut implemented at the same time it was imposed. In 2008, it was suspended and now that it is scrapped, our victory on this burden is complete,” she added.

According to her, FDWs including herself and other members of the AMCB filed a case against the HK government on April 1, 2003 seeking a court order to declare as the levy as illegal and unconstitutional. Despite the initial success of the FDWs to seek judicial review, the HK government expectedly prevailed.

“But we persisted and persevered. Through our rallies and submissions, we never let the government and the public forget that the undue and unjust burden of the levy is still existing alongside other policies that are regressive and violate the rights of migrants including our exclusion from the statutory minimum wage,” she stressed.

Lestari said that FDWs carried the burden of the levy as they were only given trickle increases in the minimum allowable wage (MAW) since 2003 despite the surplus economy of Hong Kong. While the big businesses profited from the recovery of HK economy, the workers of Hong Kong have not benefited as much with FDWs remaining at the bottom rung of the ladder getting only scraps from the government.

Still, according to Lestari, the campaign against the levy has strengthened unity and solidarity among the migrants of different nationalities to call for wage increase and stop discriminatory policies like the exclusion of the live-in domestic workers from the SMW.

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