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Ople welcomes possible opening of HK to Pinoy caregivers

Ople stressed that discussions are still at the exploratory level, citing concerns like the language barrier that needs to be addressed. Most of Hong Kong’s elderly only speak Cantonese.

THE Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) will be holding exploratory talks with their counterparts in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HK-SAR) to discuss the possible deployment of Filipino caregivers and assisted care workers, Migrant Workers Secretary Susan Ople said.

Ople made the announcement after a bilateral meeting Monday with Hong Kong Secretary for Labour and Welfare Chris Sun.

During the meeting, Sun said the Hong Kong government was willing to fast-track the hiring of as many as 7,000 foreign workers to address an acute manpower shortage, specifically in the caregiver and assisted care workers categories.

He said there is a growing need for workers in both private and government subsidized care homes and assisted care facilities because of Hong Kong’s aging population.

For her part, Ople welcomed the possible opening of Hong Kong for Filipino caregivers.

“This would provide additional job opportunities for our caregivers, under conditions that value their skills and are cognizant of their rights and welfare,” Ople said.

But Ople stressed that discussions are still at the exploratory level, citing concerns like the language barrier that needs to be addressed. Most of Hong Kong’s elderly only speak Cantonese.

Ople designated Undersecretary for Policy and International Cooperation Patricia Yvonne Caunan to head the DMW team which will leave for Hong Kong next month.

The Hong Kong Executive Council passed a resolution on December 13 last year approving the direct hiring of foreign caregivers and cutting down the regular application and processing period of three to four months to two months.

The proposed salary range for caregivers and assisted care workers ranges from HKD12,000 to HKD20,000 or from P85,000 to P140,000.

During their bilateral meeting, Ople conveyed the Philippine government’s appreciation for the initiatives of the Hong Kong government to ensure the protection of the rights and welfare of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs).

The Secretary also welcomed the continuing wage review conducted by Hong Kong authorities. The latest wage and food allowance hike took effect in October last year. The new monthly Minimum Allowable Wage (MAW) is now HKD4,730, or P35,475, while the minimum allowable food allowance is HKD1,196, or P8,970 per month.

Ople also proposed the adoption of collaborative campaigns between the DMW and the Hong Kong government to inform OFWs of their rights as migrant workers and how they can seek assistance from authorities when they are in distress.

In response, Sun underscored the importance placed by the Hong Kong Executive Council to protecting their large foreign domestic workforce.

Data for the first semester of 2022 from the Hong Kong Immigration Authority (HKIA) places the number of Filipinos in Hong Kong at 211,514. They are mostly employed as domestic workers.

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