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Pinay OFWs affected by levy suspension

poc-relihiyoso.jpgThe announcement by the Hong Kong’s labour department that it would suspend the levy for the next two years has needlessly resulted to domestic helpers having their contract canceled, not renewed, employers delaying the hiring, and other workers whose contract are not covered in the suspension facing threats of losing their jobs.

As what the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has mentioned in their press release issued on July 25, unless the HK government considers the suspension of levy to cover all contracts regardless of their status—new or existing—the domestic workers would inevitably continue to endure the insecurity to their jobs.

Below are the individual cases documented so far wherein at twenty one Foreign Domestic Helpers (FDH) who has existing employment contracts and even those who had just arrived in HK, but whose contracts are not covered by the government levy suspension package either affected or lose their jobs;

1. Lorna, 33 years old, Tuen Muen; Lorna has been working in Hong Kong for 11 years and with her current employer in Tuen Mun for almost eight years. Her fourth contract will end on November 2009.

Last July 17, upon learning about the suspension of the levy and its implementation on September 1, Lorna’s employer gave her two options: (a) they will terminate the contract and find her another employer until September 1. Then either they will hire her again or permanently discontinue her employment with them; (b) they will terminate the contract and Lorna will exit Hong Kong. They will hire her again by September 1.

2. Janet, Yuen Long: Janet’s employer told her that if the levy suspension is implemented, her contract will be terminated. She will be rehired but she has to go back to the Philippines to wait for the processing of the visa.

3. Ambarwati, 24 years old, Tin Hau : Ambarwati has been working for her employer for five months. Last weekend, she reminded her employer to pay the levy which is due on 25 of July. The employer said yes but suddenly said “if you do not want to work here anymore, please let know”.

4. Armiati, 24 years old, Shau Kei Wan: Armiati has been working for employer for two years and eight months. Last week, her employer told Armiati and the rest of the family that it will be better for them to hire a new domestic helper instead of paying the levy.

5. Sumber, 24 years old, Choi Hung: Sumber has been working for her new employer for one month. Last week, her employer told her that she will be benefit from the suspension of the levy if she hires a new domestic helper.

6. Ganika, 26 years old, Ma On Shan: Ganika has been working for her employer for two years and eight months. After the first announcement of the levy suspension, her employer’s son suggested to her employer to hire a new helper instead of continuing to pay the levy.

7. Imelda, Yuen Long: Imelda’s visa will end on August 12, 2008 after one contract with her current employer. Imelda has found a new employer in Yuen Long and has started to process the new contract. When her future employer learned of the levy suspension, she was told to wait and start the processing on September 1.

8. Michelle, 26 years old, Hung Hom: Michelle has been working with her employer for almost two years. Her current contract will expire on August 17. Her employer signed a new employment contract with her but when they learned that the levy will be suspended only on September 1, her employer held up the processing of the second contract.

9. Juvy: Juvy has been working with her employer for four years. Her current contract will end on July 25. She has found a new employer but the new one held up the processing of her documents when they learned that the suspension of levy will take effect later in September.

10. Liza: Liza worked for less than a year with her employer when she her contract was terminated on July 12. Fortunately, she found a new employer but when the delayed effectivity of the levy suspension, her employer decided to hold the processing of the contract and Liza to wait for her visa in the Philippines.

11. Sol, 50 years old: Sol finished her contract with her employer who migrated to another country. She found another employer and, by rule, can be able to process her new contract while in Hong Kong. She has found a new employer but upon submitting her documents to the Immigration Department, she was told to inform her future employer that he can choose to either pay the levy in lump sum (HK$9,600) or defer the issuance of the visa, which should be August 8, until the suspension of the levy takes effect.

12. Susan, Tai Wai: Susan, a mother of 3, is a domestic helper for 13 years in Hong Kong. She has been working for her current employer for almost her years and her visa will end on August 12. Her employer told her that if the suspension of the levy will start on September 1, she will delay the processing of the contract.

13. Qori: Qori is applying for new contract at Immigration Department but the employer asked her to postpone the application and wait for the implementation of the levy suspension.

14. Fajar, 33 years old, Prince Edward: Fajar worked for 10 months with her employer and her contract was terminated suddenly on 20 July 2008 after the levy suspension was announced. She is currently staying at her agency in North Point.

15. Nanik, 22 years old: Nanik’s contract was terminated after working for her previous employer for only five months. Fortunately, she was able to get a new employer. She then went to Macau to wait for the approval of her working visa and has been staying there for almost two months now. Her employment visa should be approved very soon but last week, the agency processing her application called her sister and told her that Nanik’s new employer has decided to cancel the application.

16. Rina Sulistiana, 27 years old: Rina completed her two-year contract and has submitted her new employment contract with a new employer. But last weekend, the employer decided to cancel the application.

17. Iweng and Isnawati: Iweng and Isnawati are currently working for the same employer. After the announcement of the levy suspension, their employer suggested to them the termination of their contract and just rehire them once the suspension is implemented.

18. Indri, 28 years old, Wong Tai Sin: Indri has been working for 18 months for her employer. Last Saturday, the employer suddenly expressed her intention to terminate Indri’s employment contract and even wanted to have Indri sign the termination letter.

19. Tri Mariati, 29 years old: Tri Mariati will finish her contract on July 25. She has found a new employer already who was willing to hire her and planned to submit her application to the Immigration Department once her current employment ends. After the announcement of the suspension, her new employer canceled her plan and said that she will just wait until the suspension is implemented.

20. Suripningsih, 35 years old: Suripningsih has been working for her employer for more than four years. She just renewed her contract last month. Her employer offered to terminate her contract first and later on rehire her in order to avoid paying the levy.

21. Sri Lankan domestic worker: A Sri Lankan domestic helper arrived for the first time in Hong Kong yesterday. Upon arrival, her employer canceled her employment and immediately bought a return ticket to Sri Lanka for her. She was not even able to leave the airport.

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